I’m outraged but not surprised to see television personality John Stossel misleading the public about essential eye health care and optometry, and attacking our AOA. As Mr. Stossel admits, he has targeted us because of our success in holding accountable those behind online vision testing services and the false claims they’ve been making to the public.
Counter to Mr. Stossel’s assertion, the AOA did inform him of the facts
about dangerous online vision test apps and underscored the importance of a comprehensive eye exam for one’s eye and overall health. Unfortunately, that information was neither published nor acknowledged. We have been and will continue to be relentless on this issue, whenever and wherever it is covered.
In fact, by swiftly responding to the potential public health threat posed by vision tests that irresponsibly assert they are “eye exams,” it is our AOA and state associations that have set the agenda in Washington, D.C. (where one such company, Opternative, is under active investigation by the FDA), in states across the country that have enacted or strengthened patient protection laws and in the responsible media which has recognized the AOA as the leading national authority on eye health care.
Mr. Stossel’s factually inaccurate, opinion-driven coverage of eye care in recent days reflects only his extreme bias and willful ignorance. Fortunately, it is confined to the fringes of opinion media that lack credibility and standing. In my view, this provides us with a new opportunity to fight back by continuing to educate the full range of media outlets that are not influenced by a narrow ideology or selective financial backing. That will continue to be the AOA’s approach as we battle against this and similar attacks that are no doubt now being planned.
In addition, as many of us have been doing in the weeks since our AOA on Capitol Hill effort in Washington, D.C., we must all discuss this issue with our patients and our legislators and make certain that they understand the difference between an in-person, doctor provided eye exam and a remotely attempted vision check via a computer. The AOA offers many tools and resources to assist member doctors in this effort, including this video message
The AOA has let Mr. Stossel and others like him know directly that we will not back down. We will work to hold him accountable for deceiving the public as we have with those behind the diminished care and unacceptable threat of online vision apps. Very simply, his message is irresponsible and wrong, and is being exposed by us as exactly that.
As an AOA member, you help to ensure that we always respond immediately to bias and that our positive message about the need for annual eye exams is heard loud and clear through the AOA-sponsored Think About Your Eyes national advertising campaign and our other advocacy and public awareness efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact our AOA staff or me (President@aoa.org) with any questions or comments about all that we’re doing to safeguard public health and defend our patients, our practices and our profession.
Christopher J. Quinn, O.D.
President, American Optometric Association