Wouldn’t it be a good idea to be able to just get your eyes tested online without the bother of going to an optometrist? On the surface, it seems that virtual eye testing might be a convenient and affordable alternative, but don’t be deceived. There are many benefits to seeing your actual, human eye doctor on a regular basis. In this article, we will dig a little deeper and help you see a bit more clearly! Read on to learn more.
What’s Missing In An Online Eye Test?
At the outset, it’s important to note that while it is possible to test your eyes online, it is not possible to have them virtually examined. For a proper examination, you need a human optometrist who can look at your eyes and your overall health, ask you questions and administer the eye test accurately. A genuine eye exam can reveal vision problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic eye disease and the like. A virtual eye test cannot.
An online eye test might be a good idea for giving your vision a cursory check between annual or bi-annual trips to the eye doctor. If your vision tends to change quite a bit throughout the year, there is some value in checking it every month to six weeks. It is also possible to check for problems such as color blindness and contrast sensitivity with a virtual test. Just keep in mind that there is a margin for error, and if you get negative results, it may be because you did not do the test correctly. You should always double-check with your actual doctor before taking action on the results of an online eye test.
Should You Order Glasses Online Based On The Results Of A Virtual Test?
The answer to this question is “Yes and no!” If you are away from home and break your glasses, a virtual test can be a quick, easy, affordable way to have a replacement pair made. Even then, you will have to wait 24 hours to have your prescription delivered via email.
You can then use this prescription to order glasses online and have them delivered. This will take a few days as well. If you are in a foreign country or are far away from the modern world (yet still have Internet access) this may be an option in a pinch.
For your regular glasses or contact lenses that you wear every day, it is not a good idea to trust an online test. As noted, the results of your test may be off due to your own human error. Wearing glasses that are not quite right for you can damage your vision.
Additionally, even in emergency situations or as a quick check between traditional eye exams, an online test is not right for everyone. The largest company offering this service today warns that their testing procedure is only suitable for healthy people who are between eighteen and forty years of age.
How Much Does A Virtual Eye Test Cost?
The service usually costs about $60 and is not typically covered by insurance, so it really is not much of a saving. If you have health insurance through your employer, or some other form of coverage an annual eye exam is probably covered. Obviously, if this is the case you are better off financially going to a real optometrist and getting a full exam that is covered by your insurance. Even if you do not have coverage, you will get more value for your dollar with an eye exam as opposed to a vision test.
Are Virtual Eye Tests Safe?
While you are unlikely to be immediately injured by an online eye test, replacing an actual exam with a virtual test can produce dangerous results. If you make a mistake while taking the test, your prescription could be “off”, so your vision would not be as clear as it could be for important tasks such as driving.
Wearing glasses that are not quite right for your eyes can result in eye strain or even injury to your eyes, and as noted, your computer cannot tell you if you have a serious, vision threatening condition.
For these reasons, there is currently a great deal of controversy surrounding these tests. The American Optometric Association (aka: AOA) has filed a complaint with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) against the main purveyor of virtual eye testing (Opternative). The AOA asserts that Opternative’s online eye test violates the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and poses a serious public health risk.
The Human Touch Makes A Huge Difference
When you test your own eyes online there is obviously no trained professional present to assure that the test is administered properly or to interpret the results. The lack of a medical doctor means that no one will notice if you are developing a condition that may eventually result in the loss of your vision. Catching dangerous eye conditions early is key to successful treatment.
Even if you are in excellent health and have strong, healthy eyes, if you make a slight mistake in the virtual testing process, you could end up with eyestrain, headaches and an overall waste of money.
In the final analysis, you will get far better service and far better value when you visit your local optometrist for a genuine eye exam. If you do decide to use online testing just to keep track of your vision between exams, be sure you understand the services offered and use them carefully. Share the results with your optometrist and follow his or her advice regarding the care of your eyes.