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Warby Parker improves its eye examination app – and bets on telehealth



Of course, getting a full exam every year is not always tasty – or possible – for patients. If the prescription expires, but you just want new frameworks, it can be painful to wait for a proper exam.

“Convenience is very important,” said Jorge Cuadros, clinical telecommunications researcher at UC Berkeley Optometry College. Right now you need to call, make an appointment, go down, take time off from work, and then take the eye examination. And then you spend so much time when you could just do an online test just to renew the prescription. ”

Warby is very aware of the limitations of the service. The app can not detect serious eye problems, such as macular degeneration or cancer. The company̵

7;s CEO Gilboa says he sees the virtual vision test as a supplement to traditional eye examinations, not a substitute. The goal is not to smear the whole nuance of a full survey in one app.

“We do not replicate all the pieces,” he says. “We really share the comprehensive health examination and focus only on the piece that is related to your ability to see and your visual acuity for both glasses and contact lenses.”

This separation of telemedicine services has expanded during the Covid-19 pandemic, making many health checks much more accessible to many people. But a side effect of that trend is that how patients think about comprehensive health care has become fragmented.

“This is not just in optometry,” says Richdale. “We see that you can go online and get a prescription for contraception or testosterone or other things. And these companies are about to make money. So they take out parts that they think they can do, because they are relatively benign and sell them directly to the consumer. You think, ‘These are glasses. What damage can it do? ‘”

Companies like Warby Parker can give large disclaimers, but that does not mean that users will follow them. The easier it is to bypass traditional care, the easier it is for people to ignore seemingly minor health problems until it is too late.

“The general philosophy in the United States seems to be moving away from preventative care and health examinations and more toward emergency care,” Richdale said. “You kick a little on the box down the road until one day it’s your problem.”

Experts say that the problem is not with the telemedicine itself, but rather how it is implemented. Cuadros describes an optimal approach as one that expands, but does not replace, the existing care that doctors provide. And it can best be used by doctors at the local level. Virtual vision tests can be very helpful, especially if it is in the hands of a doctor who is familiar with your needs as a patient.

“Maybe the person behind the curtain should not just be an anonymous ophthalmologist somewhere on the panel of any company,” says Cuadros. “But it should be your local ophthalmologist, the person you want to see anyway. Involve the local eye nurses in the equation. ”

Whether Warby Parker can build enough trust to get people to leave their local optician and introduce a hybrid approach to their vision – half online, half in the Warby Parker store – remains to be seen. But as it expands its presence and capabilities both online and offline, the convenience of its online services will be a strong selling point.

Update, July 19, 2021, 13:30: This story has been updated to correct the name of Warby Parker’s new app. It’s called Virtual Vision Test.


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