The Need for Vigilance

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO April 05, 2012

Autorefractors are an important element in optometric practice. The primary function is to provide objective data that can be used in concert with other findings to help determine a refractive prescription.

We all know that prescribing off the autorefractor alone is a recipe for failure. Autorefractor findings should not be used without reference to other measurements including binocular balance. Efforts to do so would result in poor patient results and an unhealthy diet of failed prescriptions.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Utah legislature that would have allowed glasses to be purchased directly off autorefractor findings without a doctor’s prescription.

Apparently, patients would utilize an autorefraction kiosk and be able to directly purchase glasses based on this information alone. Fortunately, through the outstanding work of the Utah Optometric Association, with an assist from VSP Global, the bill was defeated and patient well-being preserved.

The Utah case gives us an excellent reminder of the need to beware of efforts to separate the refraction from the eye exam. The health of the patient must come first with the refraction being an important component of a proper examination.

We all have many examples of patients who only wanted their prescription, who on careful examination proved to be at risk for serious medical consequences. Eye care is very important in prevention and in patient well-being and should not be underestimated.

As I see it, optometry must remain vigilant to guard against any affront to quality care. The health and welfare of our patients depends on it. The Utah Optometric Association has shown us the importance of awareness and action, and VSP remains committed to the cause.

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