Lawmaker Focused On Keeping Eye Exam Kiosks Out Of Michigan

Posted at 10:40 PM, Mar 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-12 23:30:41-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 12, 2014) – Better of worse? It’s a question often asked during an eye exam but now some are asking if a machine that checks your eyes is ‘better or worse’ for Michigan.

Senator Rick Jones, (R) Grand Ledge, is trying to stop eye exam kiosks from setting up in Michigan.  If passed, a new bill would prevent them from setting up shop in places like local malls or retail shopping centers.

Senator Jones said this is one issue he can’t look the other way on.

“My wife had no pain,” he said while explaining the reasoning for this newest piece of legislation.  “No blurry vision.  She went in for routine glasses and the doctor said, ‘There is something wrong with one of your eyes.’  He sent her to an ophthalmologist and he saved her eyesight.”

The senator is convinced if his wife had not seen a trained professional her bleeding retina would have gone undetected.  That’s why he is worried others may unknowingly think they are healthy when they use a machine to get their eyes checked.

One such machine is called EyeSite made by the company SoloHealth based in Atlanta.

The goal of the self-service vision screening kiosk is to allow people who wouldn’t normally see a doctor a chance to get a free eye exam and a referral to an eye-care professional if needed.

Dr. Tom Cowden is with Grand Rapids Ophthalmology.  He said he has heard of the kiosks.

“My problem is some of these things may substitute that (a professional eye exam) and therefore people might not think that they have to see somebody and may neglect their eyesight and their general health,” said Dr. Cowden.

The closest EyeSite kiosk can be found in Cleveland, Ohio.  Certain eye care professionals agree with Senator Jones that a proactive approach is the best method on this issue.

Dr. Cowden said, “If there is a law that needs to be said to be avoid these kiosks at this level, I think that would be appropriate.  Down the road, who knows what could happen?  But certainly at this level I don’t think anything could replace the doctor.”

SoloHealth specifically states on its website the product is “…not designed to replace a comprehensive eye-exam.”  Certain doctors, like Dr. Cowden, are worried that potential patients may start a dangerous trend.

“Where they never see anybody so they never get screened for diabetes,” he said.  “Or why their decrease in vision may be due to a cataract or a retinal problem that was never picked up because nobody is actually looking at that.”

The bill must first be heard in a senate committee before it goes up for a full vote.