Opternative raises $6M to expand at-home eye exams to 46 states

February 18, 2016

— a provider of online refractive eye exams — announced this morning it has closed a $6 million Series A round of financing led by Jump Capital. The company will use the funding to expand its service in the United States.

The company’s online eye exams let patients take vision tests in 25-minutes using their own smartphones and computers. After taking an exam, patients receive a physician-issued prescription within 24 hours that can be used to purchase glasses or contacts from any optical retailer.

Opternative's prescription service is available in 33 states, and the company is planning to expand to an additional 13 states this year. 

Currently, the Chicago startup's at-home eye exams only serve patients between ages 18 and 40. According to CEO and co-founder Aaron Dallek, the company is currently working on adapting its technology in order to provide its service for users over 40 as well.

"Patients that are older have something called presbyopia, which is why it gets harder and harder to read things up close," said Dallek. "Because of that, there are user experience aspects of our exam that we feel like we want to improve to make it easier to take the exam and make patients feel like it's a great experience."

Opternative’s service costs $40 for a prescription for glasses or contacts, or $60 for both. According to a clinical trial carried out by the company, it's as accurate as a traditional refractive exam performed by an optometrist — though it does not serve as a replacement for an eye health exam.

The idea behind Opternative came about over six years ago, when co-founder and optometrist Dr. Steven Lee was seeing a patient who needed frequent eye exams. Sitting in the exam chair, she asked Lee why she couldn't just do the test from home.

After tossing the idea around for three years, with a majority of negative responses, Lee met Dallek, who is a life-long glasses and contact wearer and together they started the work to make the project a reality. Since its launch in July 2015, Opternative has garnered 40,000 patient signups. 

“Opternative’s telemedicine application has cleared a bottleneck for a large and growing market dynamic in online eye care,” said Garrett Vygantas, M.D., partner at Jump Capital in a statement. “We are eager to continue to work with Opternative to commercialize this technology and develop additional products that support the vision of the company.”

The round was joined by Tribeca Venture Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Chicago Ventures, Craig Duchossois, Sam Yagan of Corazon Capital, NextGen Venture Partners, and brings the company’s total funding to date to $9.5 million.

Image via Opternative.

Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Shoot us an email or follow us on Twitter @BuiltInChicago.