EyeMed Vision Care, a vision insurance provider owned by the Big Brother of Optical, Luxottica, has designed a website for eye care patients who wish to learn more about the eye and its function.
The web page, EyeSiteOnWellness.com, appears to be a educational site for people to click around and learn about vision, eyes and how glasses work. There are tips for what to expect during your eye exam and recipes that help support the eye’s health, but these are nestled comfortably by articles that explain how great Transitions lenses are or the how the CLARIFYE eye exam is such an accurate way to have your eyes examined.
The problem with these last two examples is that Transitions are a brand of photochromic lenses owned by Luxottica and CLARIFYE exams are a ‘technology” that is exclusively owned by LensCrafters, who, again, is owned by Luxottica. Although there is relevant and educational material presented on the site, there is a good amount that serves to plant seeds of consumerism in the heads of patients.
Disguising products as medical advice is manipulative. Patients who re looking for eye care advice are coming to this website, perhaps owned by their insurance company, and being fed misleading information. While there is plenty of material within the website that truly educates in a unbiased manner, the integrity of EyeSiteOnWellness.com has already been lessened.
I’ve decided to evaluate this website by seeing how it stacked up against the Health Related Web Evaluation to see exactly how patient friendly EyeMed’s page truly is. The questionnaire uses a 0-2 point rating system on the quality of the site, its information and its usability. The best possible score for a given webpage is 72 points; EyeSiteOnWellness.com scored a 48. If this were a graded test, the site would have failed with a 67%.
To better serve patients, this site could decrease the amount of content directly involves products and service owned by Luxottica.
Much of the information on this site is geared towards to the sale of products and services. By mixing the sales pieces, which are cleverly disguised as eye care advice, in with posts that genuinely educate the patient, readers can easily be tricked into thinking the advertisements are factual.
Anything that is promotional should clearly be marked as such.
All posts that feature a product or service owned by the site’s parent company should clearly be labeled as an advertisement. The site presents all of the eye health news and facts in the same manner as the pieces written on brand name lenses and add-ons. Patients have the right to know that what they are reading isn’t 100% factual if it isn’t.
Content that directly related to a corporately owned product or service should include unbiased, third party sources to back their claims.
Should the site have content about a promotional item, any claims that the product is better than its competitors—or even that the product is beneficial—needs to include unbiased sources that support these claims. Advertisers make a lot of statements about what they are selling but backing up what is being said with outsider opinions (peer reviewed are even better) hold significantly more weight.
All posts should be times stamped and include the name of the author.
Throughout the pages of content, both factual and that made to market, there is information that can be helpful. The problem is, none of the pages are time-stamped for currency or even list a contributing author. This may not seem important, but not knowing who is telling you what you are reading or even what year it came out conceals a vital piece of the sourcing puzzle. Sensationalized outdated info leads to misinformation and knowing who wrote the article gives the reader insight about any ulterior motives.
Not all of Eye Site on Wellness is marketing and the authors have done a great job of curating the information that is factual. If you work under the Luxottica umbrella, by all means, feel free to use this sight for promotional purposes, but you should tell your patient about the glaring biases ahead of time.
There are plenty of websites out there for patient use, but I do not recommend this one. When looking for information to give patients, always look into the sources and sponsors of the page and decide if there is any bias toward a product or company. Using an educational format to trick people into thinking people are reading medical advice instead of marketing material is cheap and unethical. The AOA and AAO both have links to patient friends literature on their websites and other third party patient care pages are out there.