To get our eyes tested we’ve always had to go to an optometrist, and that can be a pain. But now, maybe we don’t have to go! Is it the quick and cheap alternative that you’ve been looking for? Welcome to your online eye exam A company called Opternative, as in optometry alternative, claims it has a new online eye exam that’s as good as an in-person exam. We’ll measure how clearly you see. Take 11 heel to toe steps away from your computer. Gently cover your left eye and press the button to begin. It’s hard to believe that this could replicate what optometrists do. But the author of the book “Bottleneckers” who researched this exam says it is just as good as an in person exam. At least as good, and sometimes better some research has indicated. How can it be better? It’s over the internet? This is the beauty of technology. Select the square with the sharper lines. You look at the computer while following instructions on your cell phone. Optometrist Steven Lee founded Opternative. In this TED talk he explains that he did it because a patient complained about how difficult it was to get to his office. She’d skip work and waste most of her day to spend just a few minutes with me. That’s when she stopped me. She said: “Doctor Lee, why can’t we just do this at home?” So he invented a way to do that. Select which character looks different. All you need is a computer and a smart phone. That’s it. This is really foolhardy and really dangerous. The American optometric association says a home test is unacceptably risky because no optometrist is there to look for diseases. So I said to the company spokesman: Sick people are not going to be diagnosed. Sick people are not allowed to take the exam. Well how do you stop them, you ask them questions? Absolutely. Just like would be done in your optometrist’s office. Optometrist is not going to be able to screen you for diabetes. They can’t take a blood test. The Opternative computer program does ask you medical questions. If the program suspects that you have disease, the company won’t give you a prescription. It refers you to an eye doctor. It is a tool that allows you to take a test or be screened. Those results are then reviewed by a licensed ophthalmologist. Not good enough, says the Optometric Association. They want to force everyone to go to an eye doctor. They’re the bottlenecker here and they’ve persuaded 13 states to draft bills banning at home tests. Groups of doctors that basically said, patients like yourself should not have the right to make any choices in your vision care. Bottleneckers like the optometrists have clout in the legislatures, because they give the politicians money. When South Carolina’s legislature banned the at-home test, then Gov Nikki Haley spoke up for the patients. She vetoed the ban. She said it was anti-competitive. And it is! But the legislature were so beholden to the optometrists that they overrode her veto. It’s as if car makers got together and got laws passed forcing all of us to buy the most expensive cars. But often consumers don’t want all Cadillacs, sometimes they are satisfied with a Chevrolet. Many Americans never visit any eye doctor. This test at least gives all of us a choice. What is right, forbidding a person from seeing unless they first allow you to invasively test their eyes? Please hold your phone at a normal reading distance. I didn’t have to go through an invasive test. Your prescription is in sight. In a few days I got this prescription, which turned out to be the same prescription I get from my expensive eye doctor. And I paid just $50. On average optometrists in my town charge $95. It’s good to have a choice. These glasses were the correct prescription, for less money. The optometry lobby doesn’t want us to have that choice? No, they don’t! Bottleneckers make life worse for you.