Telemedicine of Today
If telemedicine is a new term for you, it’s time to be introduced.
Telemedicine is an exciting new advancement of medical treatment, which connects patients with qualified healthcare professionals through remote communication. It becomes particularly useful in cases such as monitoring a patient with a chronic condition, creating access to specialists regardless of geographic location, or to get care to those who are unable to leave their home due to physical or mental health conditions. Imagine how helpful being able to communicate with a doctor through a live video feed might be to someone who suffers from chronic pain or PTSD. They can reach the care they need without preparing for what might be a difficult trip in leaving their home.
Telemedicine is only one aspect of a larger field. Telehealth is the all-encompassing term for everything related to the junction between communication and health care. All telemedicine is telehealth but telehealth includes more than just telemedicine.
Telemedicine is focused on the direct link between patients and doctors. It uses communication technology to allow doctors to remotely diagnose, treat, and provide ongoing monitoring for patients. While telehealth includes this one-on-one type of interaction, it is also used for broader health communications. Something that is part of telehealth only is the education of both medical employees and the public. This aspect involves informing the public about a local health concern or continuing to provide education for current healthcare providers.
How Does It Work?
Telemedicine uses the Internet, computers, and mobile devices to give patients access to medical care. This broad definition means the field of telemedicine is ever expanding as people find new uses for it or realize it is a solution to an existing problem. Innovation in telemedicine, in both the technology and medical aspects, has proven useful in alleviating concerns and struggles voiced by both patients and medical care providers.
While the exact procedure differs depending on what the healthcare concern is, the idea is to allow the patient to “visit” a doctor and benefit from their knowledge without having to actually visit their office. The basic concept creates a way for the patient to transfer medical information electronically to a doctor, who will review it and report back their findings.
Practicing telemedicine could be as simple as sending a few emails back and forth. During the email conversation, the patient mentions the wound from their recent surgery hurts a bit. The doctor asks for an image of the healing incision and the patient attaches it to their reply. Is the doctor concerned about the appearance? He might ask the patient to use an app to report their vital signs, looking for signs of infection.
It sounds simple but that is what telemedicine looks like in practice. Which is really the goal. The futuristic sounding terms are meant to achieve accessible and affordable health care.
But don’t start picturing severely ill patients asking an online forum if they should go to the hospital for their broken leg. The point of telemedicine is to get more patients the clinical care they need from accredited doctors. The most popular reasons and uses for telemedicine reflect this mission: relieving demands of time for doctors and patients and continued monitoring of an existing, but stable, condition. Telemedicine is about avoiding unnecessary office visits, not making office visits unnecessary.
How Does Telemedicine Benefit Me?
While telemedicine is indeed a great use of current technology, for anything to be considered successful, there has to be measurable benefits. To better understand these benefits, let’s start with the people telemedicine is designed to help. And that includes you.
Patients have three main areas of concern and they are convenience, cost, and capability. While these things may be prioritized differently for each individual, these are most often cited when asked about satisfaction with the healthcare industry.
Being able to access medical care in a convenient way is one of the hallmark principles of telemedicine. People in rural areas or who are physically unable to leave their homes are at a major disadvantage when scheduling office visits with a doctor. And even if you are not in those categories, most patients want a simpler way to see a doctor when they need to. Scheduling time away from work or school is difficult to coordinate with the often limited office hours of physicians. And let’s not even think about needing a doctor on a holiday or weekend.
The ever-increasing cost of medical care is always an issue. Telemedicine actually reduces the cost through their remote analysis and electronic data storage which require less physical resources to maintain. Telemedicine can possibly eliminate unnecessary visits to the ER as well as transportation expenses for patients who require it. The technology used, while being cutting-edge and impressive, also lowers other traditional costs associated with medical care. It is better able to manage chronic illnesses, and results in shorter hospital stays, as well as lower readmission rates.
The capability of the doctor will always be a major concern and telemedicine addresses this by giving patients better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to specific doctors, regardless of their location. This technology enables specialists to perform detailed consultations from miles away. Having the ability to access the medical minds of all these physicians might be the most outstanding feature of telemedicine.
Although these are only three benefits associated with telemedicine, patients often mention others like not having to lose time from work to for a doctor’s visit, having their medical information easily accessible through a secure portal, and being able to engage with doctors in more relaxed setting than an office or hospital.
Above all, there is a very high level of patient satisfaction with telemedicine which demonstrates its success to address key concerns and needs of patients.
Telemedicine is Right Here, Right Now
In case you might think that telemedicine is still a thought of the future, you can literally reach out and touch it. Right now. In fact, you may already have used some of this technology though one of these services.
Teladoc is pretty much what the name implies: tell a doctor. But this on-demand service uses mobile devices, video, phone, and the Internet. Yet, there is no donning a gown and jumping up on the examining table. The patient sees a doctor through audio-video technology for diagnoses, consultations, or to receive ongoing monitoring of prescription medication. Teleadoc promises quality care when you need it. And the average wait time to speak to a licensed doctor by web, phone or mobile app is less than 10 minutes.
SnapMD uses cloud-based technology to streamline and integrate all aspects of medical care. This is a simple and cost-effective way to access servers, storage, databases, and other applications over the Internet. While patients can see licensed physicians through the use of mobile devices, SnapMD also encrypts their medical history and is compliant with HIPAA privacy regulations. Doctors can view their medical charts during the call which provides more information to make a thorough analysis. On the paperwork side, having the patient’s medical data in a convenient location assists in the process of filing insurance claims, determining co-pays, and verifying health plan coverage.
BreakThrough focuses on mental health and advertises confidential online therapy from your couch. This service has enhanced the therapeutic experience by providing a wide range of licensed therapists and psychiatrists. It also eliminates the possibility of running into someone in the waiting room, which is often a worrying concern that patients have. Patients benefit from easy access to mental health providers, and can fit in a therapy session at times that are most convenient, including nights and weekends. Research has proven that online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy.
Smart Vision Labs covers another, sometimes overlooked, aspect of health care: vision exams. They offer a 5-minute vision exam that uses the same type of technology designed for LASIK procedures. Patients are asked a few questions about their overall health and then their eyes are scanned. These photos, as well as the data generated from them, are sent to a licensed doctor via cloud technology. If any prescription is needed, the patient can access it through a secure online portal. In fact, prescriptions will be kept on the server, along with medical data, so the patient can review this information. Once again, telemedicine offers convenience as well as quality care for the patient.
Telemedicine: Sci-Fi or WiFi?
The idea of seeing a doctor through an audio-visual link or conferring with a specialist in the comfort of your own home has a little science fiction feeling to it. But it’s all real thanks to the technology and the wonders of WiFi.
Health care has been a much discussed topic, from the White House to your own house. Although people and politicians may disagree on the best way to reform health care, everyone agrees on the idea of making it affordable and accessible. Telemedicine has done just that. It may not even be a stretch of the imagination to say that telemedicine has been at the forefront of affordable care years before it was a federal statute.
What does the future hold?
Telemedicine has not reached its full potential but has started a momentum in the healthcare industry that will be unstoppable. Despite the availability of interactive devices to connect patients and physicians, policies enacted in some states make it difficult for telemedicine to do what it was intended to do: provide everyone with convenient, cost-effective, and competent care. But the success of telemedicine and the satisfaction of both patients and physicians are causing lawmakers to rethink certain restrictions that unnecessarily regulate coverage.
Telemedicine is an exciting merging of technology and medicine that can and will change the format of health care. Everyone on the planet, regardless of geographic location, financial restraints, or physical or mental impairments, can receive medical care by qualified physicians. A wide range of conditions can be diagnosed and treated, from the flu to sprains and strains. Mental health providers can counsel patients in their own homes and vision exams are performed in five minutes with LASIK technology as a diagnostic tool.
Healthcare reform has started and we have only begun to appreciate its success and recognize its potential.
Eye Health Begins with You
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew
by Joyce Handzo
Do you know what the “i” in iPhone stands for? When Steve Jobs first introduced the iMac, back in 1998, he mentioned that the “i” stood for “Internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.”
But do you know how your iPhone impacts your “eyes?”
Even if you have the biggest, baddest iPhone on the market, the screen is still relatively small. When you use your phone to check your emails, the weather report, or Facebook status updates, you are forcing your eyes to read small print. Now, that’s fine for a limited time, but prolonged use causes eye strain.
While your eyes can and should be able to read small text, the problem arises when we stare at the phone. Trying to focus on the phone’s screen for extended periods of time decreases the normal functioning of the eyes. It specifically affects the amount of times we blink.
Ideally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this amount can be cut in half if we are reading on the phone simply because we are staring at the mini text. If you have never thought about blinking, now’s a good time to realize how important it is.
Blinking is essential because it coats the eyes with three layers of tears. The first layer is protein-rich moisture, the second washes away debris while nourishing the cornea with minerals, and lastly is an oily layer to provide needed lubrication. Without blinking, the eyes do not get what they need for optimum functioning.
“i” Need Glasses?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition in which you may have difficulty seeing objects in the distance but see well for reading or other tasks that are closer to your eyes. This condition is believed to be part hereditary and partly due to environmental factors. One of these factors can be putting stress on the eyes by continually focusing on close objects.
Yes, staring at your iPhone and reading the small text for extended periods of time can be a contributing factor. You may need corrective lenses but you also can “correct” the way you look at your phone.
What Can “i” Do?
The 20-20-20 rule might be the easiest thing to implement. Basically, you take a break from staring at or reading from your phone every 20 minutes. Then for the next 20 seconds, you look into the distance, at least 20 feet ahead. This simple action allows your eyes to briefly rest and reduces eye strain.
Another easy way to help your eyes is to hold your phone a little farther away. Most people hold their phones about 8 inches from their eyes; this is much closer than they would hold a book or newspaper. By doubling the distance to 16 inches, the eyes wouldn’t be stressed as much.
And if you are having difficulty reading text from your phone at that distance, it’s time for a vision exam. In fact, if you are spending (dare I say) hours, on your phone every day, then you are definitely due to have that exam.
We all love our iPhones; let’s show some love for the other “eye” in your life.
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“Eye” Don’t Want To!
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
There are some people who just wouldn’t be ‘themselves’ without their glasses. But did you ever wonder why they wear glasses?
Can you imagine John Lennon without his granny-style glasses? They became a trademark look for this musician.
While he was getting for his role in the film, How I Won the War, Lennon was given these glasses to wear. Apparently, the look worked for him and he kept them. Optically speaking, he was very nearsighted and wore glasses since he was seven.
Susan B. Anthony
This civil right leader is best known for championing women’s right to vote. Politically, she had a vision but her optical vision was also well known. She wore glasses to cover up her ‘lazy eye.’ This condition began in childhood and was characterized by reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development. The glasses she wore as an adult were meant to disguise this condition.
If treatment is started in early childhood, ‘lazy eye’ can be most often successfully cured.
He is credited with inventing bifocals because he was tired of switching from his two pairs of glasses. Franklin’s idea was the perfect solution: he cut the lens of each pair horizontally. The reading glasses were on the lower part of the glasses, while distance vision was addressed through the upper half.
Today, bifocals are a bit more sophisticated but the basic concept is the same. One lens with more than one use has proven to be very convenient for a large number of people, especially those over the age of 40. Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the lens of the eye hardens and makes it difficult to focus on objects that are close. Corrective eyeglasses, including bifocals, can significantly improve vision.
His gold aviator glasses immediately come to mind and they may have been used to address a condition he acquired later in life: glaucoma. In the late 1960s he developed this eye condition which caused pain when he was in sunlight or in front of a spotlight.
Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, and if not treated will get worse over time, eventually leading to permanent vision loss. This condition can be diagnosed with regular vision and eye exams and can often be successfully treated in the early stages. While Elvis’ famous glasses might have given him a measure of relief, they couldn’t stop the progression of this disease.
All of these famous people had one thing in common: their vision needed correction. Whether it was nearsightedness, a lazy eye, or glaucoma, the eyes of all of these people either were helped or could have been helped with a vision exam. We remember these celebrities and history makers through the lens of time. We also keep an image of them in our minds with their glasses on. Knowing why they wore glasses may keep our memory of them to be a little clearer.
Wearing corrective eyeglasses can be more than a fashion statement; it can tell everyone that you are serious enough about your sight to get it checked regularly.
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“Throw away your glasses! Improve vision naturally!”
“Do eye exercises really improve vision?”
There are two camps regarding eye exercises: why aren’t you doing them and why are you doing them? The kind of health blog you follow will determine which stance you’re familiar with.
Aid or Crutch?
The first group says visual aids, like prescription glasses and contact lenses, are a crutch for your eyes. They claim you can reduce or even eliminate your need for vision correction by following a regimen of eye exercises.
The idea behind this is that most people are born with good eyesight but around 70 percent of Americans have vision problems. Therefore, most of these issues are acquired through regular life events. If you did something to create them, they can also be undone through training the eye muscles. For this reason, eye exercises tend to focus on reversing myopia, or nearsightedness.
Does it Make Sense?
That kind of makes sense though, right? If your arms are weak, you get a gym membership and some barbells, and gradually increase the weights until your muscles are strong.
The problem here is that, yes, you can make muscles stronger through working out, but your eyes aren’t muscles; they are controlled by them. Each eye has six muscles on the outside which control your line of sight and one inside which moves your focus in or out. This last one, called the ciliary muscle, is what eye exercises for myopia are usually targeting. The exercises suggested are really getting you to relax this muscle. This is based on the idea that if myopia is acquired through strain and tension of the ciliary muscle, relaxing will undo it.
But vision problems like nearsightedness are refractive errors. These happen when light doesn’t reach the correct part on the inside of the eye (the retina) due to the eyeball itself being the wrong shape. Exercising the muscles in and around the eye can’t really do anything for these problems. In myopia, the eye shape is too long for the focusing muscle, regardless of how relaxed it is.
Are Eye Exercises Safe?
Depending if your stance on eye exercises is favorable or not, you might be surprised to learn these workouts are safe to do. (Just don’t drive or do anything important with your glasses off to test out any of these exercise theories!) The upside of not having a positive effect on vision is that they also don’t cause negative ones. It doesn’t hurt at all to sit on the floor with your hands over your eyes imagining being enveloped in pure darkness. Relaxation is good; just don’t expect better vision when you finally open your eyes.
Do keep in mind what you’re “learning” though. Picturing darkness just relaxes yourself, which actually might show you temporary improvement if you are suffering from eye strain, but not myopia. Rolling your eyes (like you might be doing right now at this article?) doesn’t use the interior focusing muscle at all. Reading numbers off a calendar without your glasses or contacts is just teaching you to read through your blurry vision, not to improve it.
Oh, there’s also no scientific studies or evidence to support these claims.
It might be a good idea to keep your glasses a little while longer and to have regular vision exams. They actually work, which is more that can be said for some of these eye workouts.
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There are certain things that people don’t want when they get a vision exam. Thanks to technology, they may never have to get those things.
Thanks to Telemedicine
If you have had any recent visits to a doctor, urgent care center, or an optometrist, you have already experienced telemedicine. Through the use of technology, healthcare professionals can diagnose and even treat medical conditions at a distance.
At first, this was a way for people in rural areas to “see” a doctor or specialist without having to travel long distances. However, telemedicine has become a great benefit to everyone everywhere.
This has been especially true when it relates to vision exams. Telemedicine has virtually (sorry for the pun!) eliminated many of the objections that keep people from having regular exams.
You Don’t Have To
Technology has changed the “eye don’t want to” into “you don’t have to” by eliminating many of the negatives surrounding a vision exam.
Scheduling is probably the first hurdle you may face. It’s hard to find a time and day to go for a vision exam when work, school, or other important obligations may need to take precedence. With telemedicine, walk-in exams are possible at many optical locations. This is because the test is done using technology and the data sent electronically to a licensed eye doctor to evaluate.
The vision test involves taking photographs of the eyes which captures how light travels through the eye. Where and how the light is focused in the eye will be analyzed and reviewed by an ophthalmologist. A prescription will be issued, if needed, and this can be sent electronically to a person’s email.
This type of exam also provides the second “you don’t have to” moment: no long exams. If you have 5 minutes, you can get your vision checked. A Smart Vision Exam will include scanning your eyes with the same type of technology that is used in LASIK procedures. A doctor will receive this data electronically and analyze it. You do not have to wait around for a diagnosis or prescription; both of these will show up in your email’s inbox.
Not Sci-Fi—Just Good Old Wifi
Perhaps a novelist could have envisioned telemedicine and written a story about it. At first glance, the idea of getting a vision exam without ‘seeing’ an eye doctor seems like science fiction. But we have all seen the marvels of technology.
The electronic scan of your eyes will generate data that will give an eye doctor the necessary information to assess your vision and to determine if corrective lenses are needed.
You would have the ease of not having to schedule an appointment and to not have to endure a long and sometimes tedious eye exam. Research has proven that the best way to take care of your eyes is to have regular vision exams and you don’t have to sacrifice time to do this.
Technology has made this very easy as well as accurate. The scans and photographs taken of your eyes provide doctors with a high level of comprehensive data.
“See” the benefits of telemedicine for vision exams and take your “eye don’t want to” and make it a “eye I am convinced” moment.
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Sight is our most important sense so it follows that we greatly fear losing it. Thankfully, vision deterioration or blindness are not inevitable outcomes of life or aging. Taking care of your eyes will help ensure you can keep seeing life to the fullest for the rest of yours.
The Biggest Fear?
A poll from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology found Americans believe losing their vision would create the largest impact on their lives. It ranked even higher than the loss of other important functions, like memory or speaking. Becoming blind was in the top four “worst things that could happen to you,” right alongside diseases with huge life-altering effects, like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
But losing your sight is preventable so this is a fear you may never have to face.
Glaucoma is one of the major causes of blindness. It affects vision through high fluid pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve, which is what connects your retina to your brain. Your eye contains fluids which flow to nearby tissues. If this fluid leaves the eye too slowly and begins building up, it stresses the optic nerve and causes vision loss. High blood pressure is another risk factor for this condition.
People with glaucoma develop tunnel vision. Their sight darkens, first peripherally, before gradually moving inward, eventually causing blindness.
Because there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment relies heavily on early detection. Regular vision tests check for loss of peripheral vision and dilated eye exams allow your doctor to examine the state of your retina and optic nerve. Medication for glaucoma focuses on lowering eye pressure to protect the optic nerve from further damage and to preserve the remaining sight.
Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness worldwide. These occur when the proteins which are naturally part of the lens of the eye begin to cluster together. It typically begins in one small area and spreads outward as more proteins become part of the original clump.
A person with cataracts will have blurry vision and colors will appear less vivid.
The formation of cataracts isn’t only related to aging. Some health conditions like obesity and diabetes may raise one’s risk of developing cataracts. Certain types of medications, statins and corticosteroids, are linked to cataracts. UV ray exposure from sunlight is another risk factor.
A damaging side effect of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. It can cause blindness if untreated.
Diabetes is a condition where there is too much sugar flowing in the bloodstream. Sugar molecules are sharp and damage the blood vessels as they travel along them. If the tiny vessels which nourish your eyes are injured, blood and fluids leak, causing blurry vision. If left to progress, the body will generate new blood vessels on the retina which actually creates scar tissue. These new vessels are very delicate and prone to bleeding. Eventually, this condition can lead to retinal detachment and complete vision loss.
Early detection is key to preventing vision loss. Vision damage from diabetic retinopathy sometimes begins without symptoms. Managing the condition and keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range greatly reduces the chance of developing this medical condition.
Keeping your body healthy and tracking any vision changes through regular vision testing are both important in making sure your biggest fear of becoming blind never has to become reality.
Sunglasses are way more than just an accessory. Did you know they shield your eyes from sun damage while they make you more attractive?
Now that you’re paying attention, read on to see how (and why you should wear sunglasses anyway).
Looking Cool is not the Only Benefit
The whole reason we even need a pair of sunglasses is due to the existence of ultraviolet radiation. You probably know this as “UV rays.” The sun itself, not just the light, is our main exposure to these. What this means is that your eyes are picking up UV rays even on cloudy days.
UVA, UVB, and UVC rays combine to make what we consider UV rays. You need sunglasses for the first two. Cataracts and photokeratitis (sunburn on your cornea) are two serious eye problems directly related to UVB exposure. This alone should be enough to make you put sunglasses on but there are also UVA rays to worry about. These are linked to retina damage, causing loss of central vision. Whereas UVB rays are largely absorbed by your lens and cornea, UVA rays actually get inside your eye. Don’t forget, UVB rays are still considered the most dangerous.
What to Look for
Good thing you don’t have to choose which one to protect yourself from. There are a few things to look out for when picking out a pair of sunglasses. The first and most important is that they should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
They should also screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light (which is different than protecting from UV rays). The lenses should seem identical, in both color and in lacking imperfections.
Darker does not Equal More Protection
The color of the lens has nothing to do with how much UV protection lenses provide. In fact, early versions of sunglasses were dark but blocked no UV rays.
Reducing the light while looking at something is why the very first pair of sunglasses was invented. At around the 12th century in China, smoked quartz “lenses” were held up to the eyes to block some of the bright sun. Although they didn’t block UV rays, they did hide the wearer’s emotions. Might this last reason be why they were popular with both the very rich and judges in court?
Sunglasses Make You More Attractive
Here’s the part you were waiting for. Celebrities aren’t just using oversized sunglasses or reflective aviators to hide from the paparazzi. There are two reasons explaining why we are better looking with sunglasses on.
They fix our facial symmetry. When you have on a pair of big sunglasses which protects not only your eyes, but half your face from the sun, you also hide any facial asymmetry. Science has linked facial symmetry with how attractive we perceive someone to be. As we tend to look at people’s eyes, we notice asymmetry there first. Sunglasses cover these up, making us appear more symmetrical, and more attractive.
The second has to do with those Chinese judges. They hide our eyes which reveal our emotions, giving us an air of mystery. This draws people in because they want to solve the “puzzle” of our emotions. (The judges used them to discuss issues in court without their emotions betraying their true feelings, allowing them to appear impartial.)
Health and appearance benefits? Ready to sign up? Start with a vision test to see if you would benefit from prescription sunglasses.
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We may not truly appreciate the simple vision tests and access to eye doctors we have today. “I could totally get my vision checked right now” is a thought that probably won’t randomly float through your mind. But it wasn’t even an option in the not-so-distant past.
Maybe these historical fixes for vision problems will give you a new outlook on caring for yours this year.
Nearsightedness Isn’t New
The number of nearsighted people has been steadily increasing. This is largely attributed to the amount of time people spend doing things that cause their eyes to focus on something close up. The rise of, first, reading, and second, digital devices, are both contributing factors to this issue. But just because the rates of myopia are increasing now doesn’t mean it didn’t exist before. So what did our nearsighted ancestors do to help their vision?
The very first instances at human attempts to correct nearsightedness at around the 13th century more closely resembled magnifying glasses than the stylish prescription eyeglasses of today. Wearing magnifying glasses on your face seems like it might be uncomfortable. . . which is why they weren’t usually worn. People used them to see something they were reading at that moment rather than for long-term vision correction.
Because the lens technology wasn’t developed yet, the glasses were actually made of glass (or quartz) which made them heavy and unwieldy. The thick lenses you may have grown up with were an improvement on these magnifying spectacles. They were most popular in Europe where they were manufactured although some made their way along the Silk Road to countries in Asia.
The use of glasses intended to alleviate nearsightedness rose right along with, you guessed it, the literacy rate. The first big jump in glasses-wearers comes after the Reformation at around the 17th century. It is at this period that the arms of the glasses were created, allowing them to be worn full time.
Fashion-wise, it was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they were seen as awkward, because they (unintentionally) made a strong statement that proclaimed that the wearer suffered from some condition. On the other, different styles and colors became available when people realized they needed the glasses and might as well incorporate them into their personal fashion statement.
What Vision Exam?
Did you notice what is missing from these historical accounts of glasses? If you guessed “vision exam,” you’d be correct. How we purchase a pair of reading glasses pre-made from a store is how our ancestors chose their entire prescription. They would test out several pairs and choose the one which seemed to improve their vision the best. No vision test, no eye doctor in sight. Just a traveling peddler of goods.
Thankfully, we don’t have to choose the glasses (that we use to see very important things like the road when we drive) through trial and error. Technology has made huge advances in the world of vision correction possible. From fashionable but light frames, thin lenses even for strong prescriptions, and using your smartphone for a vision test; all these are much easier and more accurate than our nearsighted historical friends with quartz lenses could have imagined it might be.
New York, NY — February 9, 2016, Smart Vision Labs (https://www.smartvisionlabs.com), the world leaders in providing telehealth eye exams that empower consumers to get their vision tested quickly without seeing a doctor, announced the launch of their new Visionaries Program. The program identifies, recognizes and promotes eye care professionals including Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians and leaders of NGOs involved in bringing greater access to vision care around the world. Visionaries look at the current system and think, “We can do better.” They embrace change with an understanding that new technology enables new solutions, more affordable options, and more opportunities. These are the individuals that move industries forward. These are the agents of change, even in stagnant industries that haven’t changed in generations.
According to Josef Katz, Chief Marketing Officer, there are 240 million Americans who are in need of vision correction, but only 114 million eye exams are performed yearly. On average there is one eye doctor for every 5,000 people. The industry is not serving the needs of consumers, which is an area where personalizing telemedicine can help. Telemedicine also promotes ownership of one’s own medical data, and with Smart Vision Labs, prescriptions are always accessible with a click of a button.
Katz describes the company’s mission as “enlarging the pie for everyone in the industry.” “Greater access to vision testing will lead more people to think about their eyes, get corrective lenses and learn more about the importance of regular eye health exams. When this happens everyone wins. The Visionaries program matches our mission perfectly. We identify leaders who want to help the eye care industry evolve and grow. When our partners around the world report business growth and inbound leads for their services, we know the program is working.”
In addition to eye care professionals, the program will also recognize visionaries in the corporate world who offer on-site vision testing as part of, or to supplement, their corporate wellness program. Wellness screenings are an extension of Smart Vision Labs’ expanding telemedicine network of stores in NY and CA who are offering on-site Smart Vision Exams. The Smart Vision Exam uses the same advanced technology developed for LASIK to capture a person’s vision correction prescription. The data is sent to a remote network of eye doctors who provide new or updated eyeglass prescriptions. The whole vision test takes about 5 minutes and customers can access their prescription online, within 24 hours. The Smart Vision exam measures a customer’s visual acuity, refractive error, pupillary distance, and current prescriptions (if applicable), while also collecting answers to basic health questions. The test is available to healthy adults between 18-60. If customers haven’t had a full eye exam within the last two years, a full eye health exam is recommended.
About Smart Vision Labs
Smart Vision Labs is making vision care less expensive, less complicated, and more accessible. The company offers a mobile-phone based vision exam where patients can obtain an eyewear prescription in minutes without the need for a doctor on-site. Their proprietary technology shrinks expensive, bulky equipment to a portable device that is adapted to a telemedicine platform. Smart Vision Exams are currently available in over 50 locations in New York and California, and the company is looking to expand to other states in the coming months. Founded in 2013, Smart Vision Labs aims to increase access to vision care by leveraging technology and innovation. Over 50,000 vision tests have been performed to date in 23 countries, including in partnership with numerous nonprofits and NGOs providing eye-care services to underserved populations here in the US, as well as in India, China and Africa.
The growing network of partners offering 5-Minute Vision Exams currently includes: Bauer Optical, Devonshire Optical, EuroOptika, Kalmus Optical, Modern Day OptX, Vint & York, Visual Optique, Digital Optiks, Strand Pharmacy Optical, Marine Park Family Vision, EyeCrave Optics, Vu Frameworks, Thosoo Eyewear, and 92nd Eye all located in the NYC area. In California, premier partners include Brighter Optical, Sun’s Up Optical, Daas Optique – Los Angeles, Daas Optique – San Diego, Devlyn Optical Walnut Park, Devlyn Optical Chino, Devlyn Optical Panorama City, Devlyn Curacao Chino, Devlyn Curacao DTLA, A B See Optical, 9FIVE Optical – Los Angeles, 9FIVE Optical San Diego, Hye Optic- Los Angeles, Hye Optic-Glendale, Eyetailor, Palo Alto Eyeworks, Valencia Eyewear, Eclipse Eyewear and Garrett Leight California Optical.
If you are interested in providing Smart Vision Exams technology in your store or joining the Visionaries Program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You use your sense of vision all the time but when was the last time you used your vision insurance? If you even have it.
Individuals and insurance companies alike tend not to see vision coverage as an essential healthcare cost. This leaves many people forgoing vision insurance, either to save money or because it was just not included in their healthcare plan.
This creates a gap in the amount of people who need vision care and those who actually receive it. In the United States, the number of Americans who need some kind of vision correction is 240 million. But each year, only 114 million eye exams are done.
Accessibility is a concern as well. If you live in a major city, you may not even realize this is a problem right here in America. Each eye doctor, on average, would have to provide care to five thousand people. That comes out to over 13 patients a day, every day, including weekends and holidays.
One of the healthcare-related problems the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seeks to reduce is the number of Americans who are underinsured. These are people who did not previously have insurance, either due to being unable to afford coverage or choosing not to have it. Not having insurance for either reason left those people vulnerable to high healthcare costs. However, the ACA does continue the trend of not considering vision care a health issue and does not require vision insurance or for companies to offer it.
This is where Smart Vision Labs comes in. They recognize the importance of vision care and seek to provide it in a way that is affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.
Using telemedicine, they are able to provide alternative health solutions in the area of vision care. Instead of waiting for an eye doctor, a 5-Minute Vision Exam allows a person (even without vision insurance) to take control of their eyes. You will still receive an accurate prescription for glasses or contacts but you also get the benefits of affordable care and convenient scheduling. Smart Vision Labs believes everyone should be receiving vision care, whether their insurance agrees or not.
And that’s really the entire purpose of this government mandate: to enable everyone, everywhere to have access to medical care. It’s a sense of empowering people to take control of their health. It’s a way to partner with people to create both the motivation and the means to enjoy a state of health.
This is also accomplished through the 5-Minute Vision Exam. Patients will actually have “ownership” of the medical data that was collected and analyzed at the exam by accessing a password-protected portal. Any prescriptions will be easily accessible and kept in their account for future reference and for them to be able to chart any changes in their eye health.
While the focus of Smart Vision Labs is eye care and providing convenient and affordable ways to promote that, there is another ‘vision’ to consider. That’s the ‘vision’ of empowering people to have regular eye exams and to take an active part in their eye health. And they do that by giving people a way to act on affordable care.
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