Can you trust online eye exams?
A recent trend in the eye care world is online eye exams, which are built to help individuals assess their eyesight in a quick, convenient fashion. Popular companies in this space include Opternative and GlassesOn, the latter of which comes in app form so that you can get a visual assessment straight from your smartphone.
These platforms require that you administer the exam yourself, standing back from your computer or phone screen while covering one of your eyes at a time and typing in characters that appear on the screen. Some of these services will even sell you prescription glasses or contacts based on your results, though this is not legal in all states.
Altogether, there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding these online exams, with the FDA even getting involved last year.
Here, we want to take a look at these exams and whether or not you should rely on them to assess your eye health.
A Visual Test Is not an Eye Exam
While the appeal of these tests is obvious, allowing you to test your vision without having to leave the comfort of your own home, there’s also a big problem with using these exams as a substitute for regular checkups at an eye care center.
Many people mistakenly think that eye exams are primarily about testing one’s vision. While this is an obvious and important part of eye tests, it’s only half the story. The other half is testing for serious eye
Many of these conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration, are difficult to detect, usually showing no obvious symptoms in their early stages.
The tricky part about this is that early detection is absolutely imperative for treatment. Since there are no cures for most of these conditions, the only way to fight them is to slow their progression.
The concern, then, is that people will view online vision tests as an alternative to regular eye exams by a professional eye doctor. Vision tests and eye exams are not the same things, though that might not be clear to most people. Ultimately, this is a very worrisome concern of these services, and it makes it difficult to see their value.
That said, there is the question of whether or not these exams are accurate.
Are Online Exams Actually Accurate?
When it comes to assessing the quality of your vision, online eye exams are often relatively accurate. Some individuals, such as the author of the above-linked CNN article, have tested online vision test results against those obtained in an actual medical eye exam and found that the prescriptions were identical.
In some ways, then, it might make sense to use an online eye exam if all you’re looking for is a way to test your vision.
Ultimately, however, online eye exams deal only with the surface symptom, which is poor eyesight. Chances are, if you have poor eyesight, you already know that. But what these services cannot do well is determine the cause of poor eyesight, which can certainly vary.
As with all health issues, managing symptoms is important, but it doesn’t substitute for managing and understanding causes, which is what a professional eye doctor will do for you.
Looking for an Eye Care Center in Northern Michigan?
At Northern Vision Eye Care, we’re big fans of technological advancements that improve our patients’ eye health, and we’d be more than happy to help you. Give us a call today or fill out our convenient contact form to set up an appointment!