Recently there's been a surge in popularity of apps and paid online services offering complete eye exams using nothing more than your computer, tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately, what many people don't know is that this technology can be ineffective and doesn't replace the need for seeing a qualified eye care professional. Here's what you need to know if you're thinking of getting an online eye exam:
1. The Technology is Limited
While the smartphones we carry in our pockets are useful, they really aren't capable of achieving the same kind of results and level of detail as the current eye care technology you'll find in your optometrist's office. That's because a complete eye exam is about more than just reading letters on an eye chart. Instead, optometrists rely on powerful pieces of equipment, such as 3D retinal scanners, which not only look at your eye health, but can also detect serious conditions in your body, such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
2. There's No Direct Feedback
If you've ever had an eye exam before, you're probably familiar with the age old question of "which lens looks clearer: the one on the right or the one on the left?" While this might seem like a standard question, in fact it provides your eye doctor with extremely valuable information about your eye health. This kind of direct feedback is currently missing from a lot of apps and online services, meaning that serious issues with your eye health and overall vision may slip through the cracks.
3. You May Not Get the Whole Picture
A big part of using an app or online service for an eye exam is providing your own 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 think there's nothing wrong with their eyes, only to discover that a serious issue may exist. That's because many eye diseases have no noticeable symptoms until the later stages. As a result, you might not be giving the most accurate information before you start your online eye exam.
4. There's No Follow Up
One of the biggest advantages of seeing an optometrist in person is that they can schedule follow ups and help troubleshoot any issues that might occur. In the case of online eye exams, if there's a problem with your prescription or an emergency issue comes up, there isn't someone you can immediately turn to for help. Also, 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 you having to get new eyewear.
5. They Can't Replace a Human Eye Doctor
Despite advances in technology, there's simply no replacing the experience and knowledge of an eye doctor who is there in person looking into your eyes. A doctor of optometry 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 based on a variety of factors. Like a lot of technology, no matter how advanced online eye exams might seem, they're simply no match for a human being.
FYidoctors currently offers a free app (available for iOS and Android) that gauges your visual acuity, but it’s not meant to be a substitute for an exam performed in-person by a doctor of optometry. To book an exam with an optometrist, contact an FYidoctors near you.