We live in a 'get it now' world today. If we want it, we can get it with just a click of the mouse. So it is not surprising that you can order your contacts or glasses online. One problem you don't have your prescription?!?!? You go online, try to find an eye doctor, but you have stumbled upon a Online Vision Test that promises to give you what you need. Is it reliable? Well I found out and it surprised me.
I found a very popular app called Opternative, took the Online Vision Test, and kept an opened mind. The app is designed for people ages 18 to 50 and with prescriptions from -9 to 2.5 sphere. It was simple to make an account and asked what kind of prescription I was looking for. I was interested in wearing both contacts and glasses. Since I have never worn contacts before it would not allow me to continue with the exam telling me I had to go to a local provider to get that. I decided to move on and just do the vision exam for glasses. The app allows you to upload an old prescription (contacts or glasses) and will configure the testing around that prescription.
You need both a smart phone and a computer to take the test. No big deal for me. Then I had to calibrate my monitor using a credit card as a reference. I took a quick color test, which was great to see. Not many eye doctors even offer that test. Then I found this question very weird...it asked for my shoe size. It does this to help you measure the distance in steps from your computer to the right spot to take the test. I had to take my shoes off to make sure I was getting to the right spot. For the next 15 mins I was asked to look at a combination of symbols at different angles (measure astigmatism) and look at letters of different sizes. Finally the test was done, and they asked a few questions about my health history. On the last step they said since I had an astigmatism and my prescription had to be reviewed by a physician and they would get back to me with the results. The Cost .... $50 the same price we charge here for a refraction. The results were a little off but close enough.
Keeping an open mind, I had some positives and negatives:
If you lost your eye glasses or ran out of contacts and you are in a pinch its an OK option.
App is relatively easy to use.
App has safeguards if patients need to see a professional instead.
It double checks you through out the exam to make sure it is getting the right results.
It is not a substitute for an annual eye exam, even though some think so. It does not check the health of your eye.
Not for patients who have high prescriptions or multi-focal lenses.
Not as fast as an experienced Optometrist
This kind of test is covered by all vision plans that these kinds of apps do not take.
I spoke to a few Doctors here at Somers Eye Center, the consensuses was the same. Apps like this are not an Eye Exam and don't look for any medical issue that may threaten your sight. You might think because you have 'OK' vision that there is nothing wrong but there could be signs of some type of disease that this app cant see. They were also concerned about contact lens wearers. A lot of contact lens wearers are not compliant with their contact lens. They either over-wear their contacts or do not clean them properly. Improper compliance with contacts can lead to some serious medical conditions.
The advice from all Eye Doctors around the country is to make sure you get an eye exam ever year, especially children and people over the age of 50. If you want to use the app because you think you are saving time and money, ask yourself is it worth your sight?
Make an appointment with us here.
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