LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to protect the eyesight of Michigan residents and prevent eye exam “robo-doctors” from coming to Michigan was finalized by the state Legislature on Thursday. It now goes to the governor to be signed into law.
“This bill is about making sure that Michigan residents continue to get the proper vision care and eye exams they need,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Eyesight is too precious to trust to a machine at a strip mall kiosk. Robo-doctor machines cannot replace the training and experience of a professional who went to school for many years. While they may be able to write a prescription, they cannot check for diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, hypertension or diabetes.”
None of the robo-doctor eye exam machines have made it to Michigan yet, but many southern states have them in malls and shopping centers.
Once signed, Senate Bill 853 would create the Eye Care Consumer Protection Law, requiring that only an optometrist or a licensed physician specializing in eye care could conduct eye exams and write prescriptions. The new law would also prohibit the use of automated testing devices to conduct eye exams without the supervision of a doctor.
“My wife is a perfect example of the need for thorough eye exams,” Jones said. “During a routine exam, it was discovered that she had a bleeding retina, and she was referred to an ophthalmologist. With a series of shots, her eyesight was saved. Since she had no pain or vision problems, this condition had to be diagnosed by an expert.”
Jones’ bill does not apply to glasses that are not made, designed or sold specifically for one particular individual, such as reading glasses, sunglasses and binoculars.