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Home » News » Do Online Eye Exams Have Value (or Risks)?

Do Online Eye Exams Have Value (or Risks)?

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Did your eyeglasses crash and break? Did you accidentally tear your last pair of contact lenses?

Now, to make matters worse, you don’t have a valid eyeglass prescription or time to book a vision test with your eye doctor. Is a digital online eye exam the perfect solution?

The short answer is – yes, an online eye exam could be a good temporary solution for your immediate problem! However, you need to be aware of exactly what an online eye exam will give you, and what it cannot provide.

DIY digital vision tests are not a replacement for visiting your eye doctor. An eye exam by our St. Louis eye doctors offers valuable information that an online eye exam simply does not see.

We’ve prepared the following Q&A to keep you informed:

What does an online vision test check?

Online eye tests evaluate your visual acuity and refractive error. It is a quick and convenient way to get a current eyeglass and/or contact lens prescription.

What doesn’t an online vision test check?

The measurements you receive from your digital eye exam reveal almost nothing about the health of your eyes. These numbers will not detect the onset or development of diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal problems, or glaucoma. Only a comprehensive eye exam can discover or rule out these dangerous threats to your vision.

Are online eye exams accurate?

More research is needed in order to answer this question responsibly. However, studies are encouraging. It appears that the accuracy of an eyeglass prescription generated by an online vision test is comparable to the prescription from an eye doctor. Yet the technology is too new to be certain.

Who Offers Online Eye Exams?

At present, a few companies offer online vision tests. The main players are Opternative, GlassesOn, and Essilor. Opternative, established in 2012, is the most well known, and they even share your vision test results with a local licensed ophthalmologist – who can review the test’s algorithms and issue a new contact lens or glasses prescription. Be aware that this service isn’t free, and you’ll need to pay a fee to send the results to an eye doctor. At present, Opternative is available for use in 39 states.

How does Opternative work?

To start, you’ll need to calibrate the test on your computer screen. This is done by measuring a credit card. You will then take a series of tests, all of which investigate your nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism.

Altogether, the Opternative online vision test takes a maximum of 25 minutes. Once your payment is received, the company emails your new eyeglass prescription within 24 hours.

Does everyone qualify to take an online vision test?

According to Opternative, their technology is most suitable for people between age 18 to 39, who are in good overall health condition – without a severe corrective eyeglass prescription or any symptoms of ocular disease.

What are the risks of online, self-administered vision tests?

  • If you have an eye disease, nobody will see it. There is no certified eye care professional to inspect the health of your eye tissues for signs of disease or abnormality. Bear in mind that an early diagnosis of ocular disease enables early treatment, which has the most successful outcome for your lasting vision! Once eye disease progresses, it is much harder to treat and vision loss is more common.
  • Your chances of receiving an incorrect contact lens or eyeglass prescription are much higher than when you have an eye exam done by our St. Louis eye doctors. Nobody is keeping watch to make sure you take the test properly. An inaccurate prescription can lead to headaches, blurry vision, and eyestrain.

eye exam overland moDo online vision exams save you money?

Not really. As far as value for your dollar, remember that you’re not receiving the same eye care services as you would from an eye exam. In fact, you are only receiving one small part of what we provide from an expert comprehensive eye exam.

Also, medical health insurance or vision insurance do not generally cover the cost of online testing. Therefore, patients with a vision benefits plan will often pay less for a comprehensive eye exam in our St. Louis office than they would for an online vision test. The Opternative online eye exam will cost you $40 for a contact lens or eyeglass prescription, or both for $60.

What do our St Louis eye doctors have to say about online vision tests?

These digital eye exams are convenient and helpful, and the technology is incredible! However, It’s best to use this service in between visiting our office in St. Louis for total evaluations of your eyes.

In sum, there are definite benefits to online vision tests, yet there are also limitations and risks. They do not assess the lasting health of your eyes and quality vision, and live, in-person eye exams with your eye doctor are still critical!

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