Online eye tests seem like an easy, quick and inexpensive shortcut for the Internet age. You look at objects on a computer screen. You then record results on a smartphone and send the information to an optometrist at a remote location. Said optometrist gives you a prescription based on your eyes’ refractive error.
Online Eye Tests For Prescription
Here’s who it’s most likely to help:
- Adults between 18 and 40 who have no ongoing health problems
- Someone who has established a baseline for their vision with a recent and comprehensive in-person exam
- A person who wants to buy eyeglasses
The test can judge nearsightedness, farsightedness and perhaps some astigmatism.
Online Eye Tests Present A Risk
Here’s who it’s not so likely to help: everyone else.
- Outside the age range of 18-40
- Vision difficulties from mild glaucoma to cataracts
- Complicating medical factors such as high cholesterol or diabetes
- Family histories of eye problems or wear contact lenses – which can alter the shape and condition of your corneas
If any of the above apply, you need to spend time in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist. You may not have healthy eyes, even if you see clearly. You may feel comfortable in your contact lenses. However, a doctor can see signs of excess wearing that can damage the cornea.
Writing prescriptions for glasses is a low priority for your doctor, who’s there to assess not just visual health but your health overall. For instance, an in-person exam can reveal changes in blood vessels that result from hypertension and may increase the likelihood of a stroke.
Perhaps the best way to know the difference is to understand the complexity of an in-person exam. Doctors ask about your medical and ocular history along with your family’s history so they can assess your risks. They test for visual acuity to learn how well you see. To do this, they evaluate muscle movement, depth perception, color vision, peripheral fields and pupillary reactions.
Doctors also take corneal measurements for contact lens fittings to make sure lenses won’t prevent oxygen from reaching your corneas. Intraocular pressure readings catch indications of glaucoma. After dilation, a slit-lamp exam detects macular degeneration, retinal problems, changes in the optic nerve, cataracts and other conditions.
Once the doctor establishes a visual baseline, annual dilated exams may reveal the smallest changes that may act as warning signs. Patients who bypass in-person exams increase the risk of discovering an illness too late to prevent vision loss.
In some cases, especially in remote areas where residents have little access to eye doctors, telemedicine technology can be helpful. Veterans Administration (VA) centers sometimes use Fundus photography to take pictures of the retina, which is the back of the eye. Doctors evaluate photos to separate patients who need care immediately from those who can wait 6 to 12 months for an in-person visit.
In-home technology doesn’t yet have the capacity to do anything so sophisticated. It’s useful for people with good overall health and no eye problems who want to buy glasses. And, if anything goes wrong with the procedure, they face nothing worse than headaches and wasted money. But any patient with more complicated health issues, visual or otherwise, should sit down with a doctor in person and get a full check-up.