Over the past few years there has been an increase of apps and paid online services claiming to offer complete eye exams using nothing more than your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Unfortunately, this technology can be ineffective or illegitimate and does not replace the need for qualified, in-person eye care professionals and optometrists as part of your healthcare routine.
Here's what you need to know if you're thinking about getting an online eye exam:
While the smartphones we carry in our pockets are useful, they can’t achieve the same caliber of results or level of detail as the current eye care technology you'll find in your optometrist's office. A complete eye exam is about more than just reading letters on an eye chart. Instead, optometrists incorporate powerful pieces of equipment like 3D retinal scanners in addition to their training and expertise to care for a patient. This technology is significantly more advanced than anything you’ll find on your smartphone. Not only can the technology in your eye doctor’s office evaluate your eye health, but—working in tandem with your optometrist’s expansive knowledge—it can also detect serious conditions in your body such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
If you've ever had an eye exam, you're probably familiar with the age-old question, "Which lens looks clearer: Number one or number two?” While this query might seem standard, it provides your optometrist with extremely valuable information about your eye health—including insight into how your eyes work together. There are many reasons other than hyperopia (farsightedness) and myopia (nearsightedness) that can cause one lens to be clearer than another, including astigmatism (an abnormally curved cornea) and other more serious conditions.
The direct, accurate feedback that your eye doctor shares with you is currently missing from a lot of apps and online services. Without your optometrist’s insight, serious issues with your eye health and overall vision may slip through the cracks.
Using an app or online service for an eye exam enables you to create a personal assessment of your vision. Unfortunately, that's not the best way to gauge the health of your eyes. In fact, many patients who see their optometrist believe there's nothing wrong with their eyes, only to discover that this is not the case. Some eye diseases have early symptoms that cannot be detected without a visit to the eye doctor, and as a result, you might not be providing the most accurate information before you start your online eye exam.
One of the biggest advantages of seeing an optometrist in person is that they can schedule follow-ups, diagnose eye health issues and come up with a plan to treat any problems that might occur. Online eye exams, on the other hand, do not allow for the same level of accessibility and care. If there's a problem with your prescription or an emergency issue comes up that requires in-person, hands-on medical care, you can’t immediately turn to someone for help. Additionally, if you're given the wrong prescription based on an online exam, it's unlikely that an app or website service will cover the costs of having to get new eyewear.
As we have illustrated, despite advances in technology you simply can’t replace the experience and knowledge of an optometrist—especially as they apply that experience and knowledge while physically examining your eyes in person. An eye doctor can detect serious eye conditions and changes in your vision that might slip through an online eye exam system. They're trained to know what to look for and to assess diseases and conditions including diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts and more. No matter how advanced online eye exams might seem, most technology is simply no match for a human being.
To book your next eye exam with an FYidoctors optometrist, contact a clinic near you.