The Truth About Online Eye Exams

by | Jun 12, 2019

Recently several companies have begun to offer online eye examinations, marketing them as a convenient alternative to visiting the eye doctor.  While the idea of receiving your glasses or contact lens prescription from home, using only your computer or phone, may seem like an appealing option, you may want to think twice before choosing to use an online eye exam to provide you with your eye care needs.  

How Do Online Eye Exams Work?

These new online eye exam services brag that they are able to provide an accurate prescription in a matter of minutes using a computer and a smart phone.  They require you to log onto a website and calibrate certain measurements, taking into account screen size and your distance from the screen. You then answer a series of questions, and the online program uses an algorithm to determine a prescription that corrects your vision.  Some programs are even able to renew contact lens prescriptions for existing contact lens wearers.

There is an important distinction that must be made when considering online eye examinations: the only function these “exams” perform is determine refractive error, or the prescription needed to correct vision to 20/20.  They are unable to evaluate binocular function to ensure your eyes are working well together, meaning your new prescription could be accompanied by eye strain or discomfort.  More importantly, these online eye exams completely neglect ocular health. While they may ask a few questions regarding the health and ocular history of you and your family, they are unable to ensure that the eyes are healthy and free of any silent eye diseases.  A true comprehensive eye exam from an optometrist includes a thorough health evaluation, in which the eyes are fully assessed from the front to the back to guarantee that no health conditions are being overlooked, and that your eyes are in good health.

Are Online Eye Exams Accurate?

Most online eye exams require you to answer questions to calibrate the program, leaving room for human error.  There is also no doctor available to discuss questions regarding problems with previous prescriptions. While some of these online programs have released studies suggesting their websites provide prescriptions that are as accurate as true comprehensive exams, the evidence supporting these claims is limited.  There will be no doctor available to discuss your concerns if you have questions about or problems with your new prescription. During a traditional eye examination, your optometrist will be able to answer any questions regarding your prescription and your vision that you may have.

A Good Deal, Or a Big Risk?

Online eye exams boast their low prices and high value as a major incentive.  However, they may not truly save you money in the long run. They are not covered by vision or medical insurance, meaning all fees must be paid out of pocket.  Additionally, if problems arise with the prescription, you must pay to complete another online exam. Ultimately, you may end up paying a higher fee for fewer services than you would receive at your optometrist’s office.  

Our eye doctors and staff at Nittany Eye Associates excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses, and medical treatment.  Our optometrists have the highest level of training, making them far superior than all online eye exams.  Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an eye exam appointment online.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality eye care services in Central PA.

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