Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed the Consumer Protection in Eye Care Act into law March 30, establishing safeguards and limitations on the use of automated or virtual equipment for assessing the eye and generating prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses.
House Bill 191 creates reasonable protection standards for Kentucky consumers, according to Ben Gaddie, OD, legislative liaison and past president of the Kentucky Optometric Association, in a statement to Primary Care Optometry News.
“The legislation addresses online technologies for eye care, such as those web applications that provide prescriptions for contact lenses or glasses,” he said. “These technologies may still be utilized in Kentucky, but the legislation establishes safeguards for their appropriate use.”
HB 191 defines an “assessment mechanism” as an automated or virtual equipment or technology designed to be used on a telephone or computer or an Internet-based device that may be used either in-person or remotely to conduct an eye assessment and includes artificial intelligence devices.
The assessment mechanism must collect the patient’s medical history, previous prescription for corrective eye wear and length of time since the patient’s most recent in-person comprehensive eye health examination, the legislation specifies.
It also states that a Kentucky-licensed optometrist may assess the eyes or generate a spectacle prescription using such technology only if the patient is at least 18 years old and has received an in-person comprehensive eye health exam within the previous 24 months. Contact lens prescriptions additionally require one follow-up renewal of the initial prescription within 24 months.
Anyone violating the bill may be charged up to a $11,000 civil penalty by the Attorney General’s office for each violation.
“Kentucky consumers still have the freedom to choose where they purchase contacts or glasses but will now also have the same consumer protections as if they were seen for an in-person exam,” Gaddie said. “These safeguards ensure that patients will still get the appropriate level of needed care from their local eye doctor, while also still providing accessibility to appropriate telehealth services.” – by Abigail Sutton