Telehealth is seeing more and more use. However, it still needs to be precisely what it can and cannot be used for, as shown by the debates about allowing eye care use. Currently, around 30 states allow this to some extent. In contrast, several others have banned it. The Michigan Legislature is one of the latest to examine the issue.
For those who are curious, the Michigan Legislature is minimally examining the issue. The proposal is to let contact lens users get eye exams conducted via telehealth. However, there are precautions built into the proposal to limit potential problems. For example, people need a prescription from an eye doctor before getting any eye care via telehealth. Similarly, people need an in-person eye exam if their telehealth eye exam says their prescription has changed. Effectively, this means that the proposal is intended for just contact lens users seeking a renewal while their prescription hasn’t changed.
Both the arguments for this proposal and the arguments against this proposal are very similar to those voiced in other debates on the issue. Generally speaking, people support telehealth for eye care because they believe it will lead to better health outcomes. This is because people will have an easier time accessing such services, thus increasing people’s chances of using them regularly. Something significant because catching potential problems early makes it much easier to treat them. Furthermore, telehealth tends to lower the cost of such services, which has a similar effect.
Meanwhile, people oppose telehealth for eye care because such services aren’t as good as their in-person counterparts.
For instance, an eye exam conducted via telehealth can reveal the prescription, but it can’t examine the eye for the signs of severe eye problems that can lead to blindness or worse. There is a possibility patients may decide to go for eye exams via telehealth because of their increased convenience while skipping out on in-person eye exams to cover this other critical aspect of eye care.