Online eye exam startup Opternative sues South Carolina government for banning eye care telemedicine prescriptions

Chicago-based Opternative has sued South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and Board of Medical Examiners, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Opternative, an online eye exam startup that operates in 39 states, filed the suit with the civil liberties law firm Institute for Justice. The suit contests the state's Eye Care Consumer Protection Law, which requires in-person examinations to be conducted prior to dispensing glasses prescriptions.

The suit alleges that the law draws an arbitrary distinction between ophthalmologists who use telemedicine and other physicians who use telemedicine. Robert McNamara, a senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, told the Chicago Tribune that the law is "entirely about protecting established businesses from economic competition," not about protecting public health and safety.

However, ophthalmology groups have also alleged that online tests do not provide accurate prescriptions. The American Optometric Association has asked the FDA to take legal action against Opternative, according to the report.

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