For many people, the notion of being able to get an eyeglass prescription and buy glasses without a trip to the eye doctor sounds appealing. But is this really a good idea?
Here's what you need to know about online eye "exams" and vision tests before thinking about saying goodbye to your eye doctor.
Online Eye Tests
First of all, it's important to understand that an online eye test — even if it's called an "online eye exam" — does not evaluate the health of your eyes.
Usually, an online eye test (more accurately, an "online vision test") only measures your visual acuity and refractive error.
But these measurements tell you little or nothing about the health of your eyes and whether you have conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration.
Even if you choose to try an online vision test, be aware that you should still have routine eye exams as frequently as your eye doctor recommends. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to insure your eyes are healthy and free from sight-threatening conditions.
Risks Of Online Eye Exams
It's worth repeating: If you choose to replace a comprehensive eye exam by your eye doctor with a self-administered online eye "exam," it's important to know that there are a number of risks you are taking on.
First and foremost, there is no trained eye care professional present to carefully examine the health of your eyes. As previously mentioned, online eye exams cannot determine if you have cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and other eye or general health problems that your eye doctor can detect during a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection of these problems can improve treatment outcomes, potentially preventing vision loss and even legal blindness.
Even if your eyes are perfectly healthy, there is a greater risk of getting an incorrect prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses with self-administered online vision tests. Even if the results of your online "exam" are reviewed by an eye care provider before your eyewear order is filled, there is no eye care professional present when you are actually taking the vision test to insure the testing is performed properly.
If you don't take the online vision tests correctly, it's possible you won't be seeing as clearly as you should for driving, or you may experience problems such as headaches and eyestrain with your new glasses or contacts.
And what do you do if you think your prescription might be incorrect? Do you have to retake the online vision test again? Do you have to pay for the second test, with no guarantee the new results will be any better?
Online Eye Exam Cost: Not Necessarily A Money-Saver
You might think an online eye test or some other way to have your vision tested will save you time and money compared with the cost of a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
But remember — you are only receiving a small part of the services provided by your eye doctor during a complete exam.
Understand The Services Provided
When using an online eye test, online eye exam, or other types of mobile eye care services, the key is to understand what the service does and does not provide. Keep in mind that testing your vision, measuring your refractive error and obtaining a prescription for eyeglasses and/or contact lenses does not insure your eyes are healthy.
It is essential for you to have a live, face-to-face comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor on a routine basis to safeguard the health of your eyes and enjoy a lifetime of good vision.
This post originally appeared on All About Vision.