From the way we shop to the way we gain information to the way we connect with friends, the Information Age is a very different world. The internet has made so many things easier, but sometimes that convenience comes at the cost of quality. This is definitely the case for so-called “telemedicine” solutions like online eye exams.
The purpose of an online eye exam is to give the user their prescription for corrective lenses from the comfort of their own home. Some tests can even include exams for color blindness and contrast sensitivity. Many of these sites will have licensed eye doctors verify the results, but these the results aren’t always accurate. In fact, the exams are so rudimentary compared to in-person comprehensive eye exams that the FDA might not continue to allow websites offering this service to use the phrase “eye exams” to describe what they do.
Most online eye exams do little more than check for visual acuity—in other words, they do just enough to get you a prescription. But problems with visual acuity aren’t the only things that can go wrong with your eyesight or with the health of your eyes. Anyone who relies solely on online eye exams might be able to keep their glasses prescription up to date, but they won’t know if they’re developing any sight-threatening eye conditions, such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.
So what do optometrists do that an app or website can’t? In-person eye exams come with the benefit of having an experienced medical professional right there with you in a fully equipped exam room. We don’t simply update your prescription, we make sure your eyes are healthy. Your eyes are also the window to your overall health. This means that when we look at your retinas, we can see the signs of health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
If you’ve taken an online eye exam to get a quick prescription update, that’s okay. Sometimes it can be difficult to make room for an in-person eye exam in a busy schedule. Just remember that an online eye exam is not an effective substitute for a comprehensive eye exam from us, and we strongly recommend that you continue to schedule yearly appointments.