Opternative Raises $6 Million Series A For Remote Eye Exams

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Chicago-based digital health startup Opternative announces that it has raised a $6 million Series A funding round led by fellow Chicago business Jump Capital. The round also included participation from returning investors Corazon Capital and Tribeca Venture Partners, and adds NextGen Venture Partners and Pritzker Group Venture Capital as new investors. The fresh funds brings Opternative’s total disclosed funding to $9 million since its 2013 launch.

Opternative is building a business around the concept of moving traditional eye exams online. The market for online health services has substantiated itself over the last several years as telehealth vendors have carved out a new market in offering supplemental care options to patients willing to pay out of pocket for the added convenience of being seen without having to make an appointment or go to a doctor’s office. The world of eye care has only partially kept up with the expanded use of the Internet in care delivery. Over the last decade, online eyeglasses retailers like Zenni Optical, 1-800-Contacts, and $39 Dollar Glasses have established a strong online market, but these online shoppers were still required to go to a local ophthalmologist to get an eye exam and lens prescription. Opternative hopes to change this by offering online eye exams and prescriptions.

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Opternative’s software walks users through the process of setting up an eye exam. First, users are instructed to close open windows to make the room as dark as possible. Next, users are instructed to measure a 10 foot distance between their computer and themselves. Instructions are then sent to a user’s smartphone while the test is displayed on the computer screen. The test is carried out in this multi-device format without any assistance or human guidance. Users go through the process of entering their answers from the eye exam and then the entire exam is sent to an ophthalmologist, who sends a prescription within 24 hours. Keeping in line with most traditional teleheath vendors, the service costs $40.

The startup is careful to note that its services are focused exclusively on writing lens prescriptions for otherwise healthy adults, and does not include standard screenings that would be performed in a typical eye exam. The sign-up process explicitly excludes patients with a number of conditions, including cataracts, recent eye surgery, glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol.


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