Optometry Podcast: Sightbox Interview with Travis Rush

Online contact lens disruptors often get lumped in together, but the truth is these businesses are often vastly different in their approach.  Sightbox is one such company: it offers patients a monthly contact lens subscription service, but the tag line “Vision Care, Simplified” points to a bigger mission.  This company does not just provide contact lenses in a monthly subscription shipment; it helps connect patients with in office eye exams.

Mr. Travis Rush, Founder & CEO of Sightbox

Sightbox founder Travis Rush is not an optometrist but he does have a background in eyecare. Both his father and his sister are optometrists, and he grew up going to optometry conferences for family vacations. His father wanted him to be an optometrist, but he was drawn to a career in technology. But like more children of optometry families, the call to eyecare kept pulling him back in.

About 20 years ago he started building websites, email solutions and e-commerce solutions for optometry offices. He noticed that offices were struggling to compete with online contact lens vendors, even if they were offering online sales on their own websites. The biggest danger he saw was online vendors commoditizing contact lenses, missing the language that an ocular health exam was an essential component to buying contact lenses. The idea for Sightbox was born. He wanted to take the good parts of online retail (the convenience, the ability to breakdown payments into smaller chunks so that patients wouldn’t have a large bill all at once) and tie that with the value of doctor’s office care.

The process for Sightbox involves a 12 month commitment by the patient. They sign up for the service on Sightbox’s website and the following process takes place:

Step 1: Do you have a preferred eye doctor? Yes or No.

About 90% of patients that sign up for Sightbox do not have an eye doctor, so Sightbox helps them find a doctor based on the distance from their home or work. The patient is asked what days of the week and what time of the day is their preferred appointment availability. Sightbox then calls the doctors’ offices within these areas and tries to match the patient’s preferred schedule to the practice’s availability.

Step 2: On the day of the scheduled appointment, Sightbox contacts the practice to provide full payment up front before the patient arrives for the usual and customary cash pay cost of the eye exam and the contact lens evaluation.

Step 3: After the exam, Sightbox follows up with the patient to get their contact lens prescription or if there were any issues where they weren’t candidates for contact lenses, they process this information. If the patient was put in a trial lens, they continue to communicate with patient to make sure they schedule follow-up appointments or any necessary additional visits so that a final prescription is achieved.

Step 4: Once a prescription is established and verified, fresh contact lenses are shipped to the patient monthly.

Step 5: 60 days before the prescription expires, Sightbox reaches out to the patient and tells this it’s time to schedule their annual eye exam.  Would you like to go back to the same doctor?

Sightbox was acquired by Johnson and Johnson Vision back in 2017. Even though they are owned by JJV, they don’t just provide JJV contact lenses, however. “One of the most important things we do is maintain a brand agnostic experience. We’re not trying to interfere with the doctor’s practice,” states Rush. “Our goal is to provide a concierge service to patients to make sure they are doing everything they need to do and educating them through that process both for their benefit and the practice’s benefit.  Whatever the doctor prescribes, that’s what we are going to fill.”

He encourages doctors to not think that Sightbox is stealing their contact lens revenue. “We are stealing online contact lens vendors’ revenue and putting patients in your chair.” The patients that Sightbox refers to practices are patients that have no insurance, that have no established eyecare provider, and are seeking to purchase contact lenses online.

“The world is changing; consumer demands are changing,” explains Rush. “Our goal is to make sure this is happening in a responsible way.  Whereas some of the other services out there are trying to commoditize the business, we don’t think that should happen. We’re trying to make sure it happens the right way.”

Are you wanting to learn more? Head to doctor.sightbox.com for unbranded social media assets to help educate patients about the importance of comprehensive eye exams and contact lens health, and you can also contact the Sightbox team directly on this website to get more information.

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