skip to main content
Where Online Eye Exams Fall Short

Where Online Eye Exams Fall Short

Are online eye exams effective? They can be in some ways, but they fall very short of the mark in others. There are things that simply can't be done online. They have to be done by a licensed eye doctor. It's actually pretty remarkable that online eye exams exist at all, but it's also very important to recognize exactly what their limitations are. They are of less quality and they are less capable than an in-person exam. Let's talk about what online eye exams do before talking about what they can't do.

What an Online Eye Exam Accomplishes

These eye exams can be used to give a user a prescription for new lenses. These exams are sometimes verified by licensed eye doctors later; sometimes they aren't. A few resources also provide exams that cover color blindness and contrast sensitivity.

Are They Accurate?

Somewhat. The FDA is seriously considering withdrawing their ability to use the words “eye exam” because what an online eye exam accomplishes falls very short of what an in-person one can. The results can be accurate, but they can also be wildly off the mark. In other words, you're dealing as much with luck as you are with any kind of accurate measurement of your vision.

What Do They Test?

An online eye exam essentially tests your visual acuity. How do you see certain letters, numbers, shapes, etc? One place where they fail is that they can't provide the redundancy and verification that an eye doctor will. Remember that ophthalmology and optometry are exact sciences that require years of additional higher education in the field.

What Isn't Tested?

Aside from offering less accuracy when testing visual acuity, an online eye exam also cannot test for a number of conditions that can impact your eyesight. It's crucial to catch conditions that risk or endanger your sight early. These can include glaucoma, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration. Catching any of these conditions early can mean the difference between saving your ability to see and losing it. Online eye exams cannot test for any of these conditions.

In-person eye exams can also reveal other conditions early – these include diabetes and hypertension. Recognizing the signs of these and making sure you get proper treatment early can save your body a lot of long-term health impacts. Once again, online exams cannot reveal any such information.

Benefits of an In-Person Exam

With an in-person eye exam, you know who you're dealing with. You know that your test will be performed by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. With an online exam, you know that the test won't be performed by an expert. Not only that, it may not even be verified by one. That leaves you taking a chance as to whether your test is even accurate or not.

Beyond this, an in-person exam ensures that your eyes will be examined and tested for a range of other conditions and possible issues. This helps you be sure that you're doing the utmost to protect the health of your eyes. Remember that indicators of other health issues can also be seen when an eye doctor examines your retinas – catching these early can protect your whole body health.

Are Online Eye Exams Useful?

Let's not throw online eye exams completely under the bus. They do have some use as a quick way to update a prescription. They should never take the place of a regularly scheduled eye exam, however. An online eye exam is technically and scientifically incomplete. They can be a useful tool in the right situation, but they are not a complete solution in and of themselves.

How Often Should I Have an In-Person Eye Exam?

A comprehensive, in-person eye exam should be scheduled yearly. Obviously, a lot of people don't stick to this recommended schedule. That happens, but the problem is when you feel bad about not going one year, so you don't go for the next year. That can quickly turn into a few years, or five years, or eight or ten. That becomes dangerous because no one has been able to assess the health of your eyes. Old prescriptions can cause eye strain and shouldn't be used past a certain date.

If you miss a year, that's life. It happens. It shouldn't be the trigger to miss more years, though. It makes coming in the next year that much more important. Your vision is something that shouldn't be risked. It should be handled by those who are trained and skilled at ensuring you can see clearly and that everything is being done to protect the health of your eyes.

Visit the friendly professionals at Asheville Vision Associates; whether it’s been a year (or a decade), we are here to help you take optimal care of your eyes - so they will take care of you!