What Is An Online Eye Exam?
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. Online vision tests often give inaccurate or misleading information, and can misinform consumers that can delay essential, sight-saving treatment. Comprehensive eye exams with your eye doctor are one of the most important, preventive ways to preserve vision, and the only way to accurately assess eye health, diagnose an eye disorder or disease, and determine the need for corrective lenses.
Online Eye Exams Leave You Vulnerable
Most online eye exams do little more than check for visual acuity—in other words, they do just enough to get you a prescription. A refraction determines the lens power you need to compensate for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism), as well as the curvature of the eye to prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Online eye tests attempt to replace one element of an eye examination, the refraction, in order to yield a prescription for glasses or contacts. It is not unlike taking a blood pressure reading at a kiosk and expecting a prescription; the reading does not provide sufficient information to determine a patient’s needed course of therapy. The refraction performed by online eye tests is only one of many tests performed during an eye examination, and taken by itself, does not provide sufficient information regarding the treatment of a patient, including the prescription of glasses or contact lenses. Problems with visual acuity and glasses prescriptions 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.
The Advantages Of An In-Person Exam
So what do eye doctors 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. Personalized comprehensive eye examinations by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist are an important part of general preventive health care. In addition, changes in refractive status can be an underlying symptom of a number of eye or systemic conditions. Systemic diseases can also be detected through comprehensive eye exams. In fact, 240,000 cases of diabetes were first detected by an eye doctor in 2014. If serious conditions are left undiagnosed for long periods of time and a patient skips office visits with an eye care professional, the chance for identifying an effective treatment lessens and could lead to irreversible vision loss or worsening of a systemic disease. That is why a comprehensive adult eye and vision examination may include, but is not limited to, the following tests:
• Patient and family health history
• Visual acuity measurement
• Preliminary tests
• Refractive status
• Eye-pressure testing
• Eye health examination
• Dilation and additional tests as needed that may include digital retinal imaging tests,
ultrasounds of the eye and automated visual field technology may also be used to detect and diagnose serious eye and health problems.
Schedule Your Next in-Office Eye Exam Today!
Just remember that an online eye exam is not an effective substitute for a comprehensive eye exam from your eye doctor.