American Optometric Association Reminds Consumers that Online Vision Tests are Not Replacements for In-Office Eye Exams

 The American Optometric Association (AOA) is educating consumers on the risks and limitations of emerging online vision tests that claim to offer refractive eye tests and issue prescriptions for glasses and/or contact lenses. Online vision tests are increasingly being marketed to consumers as time-saving and cost-efficient alternatives to in-person, personalized comprehensive eye examinations by a doctor of optometry that are an important part of general preventive health care.

The AOA is concerned about patients receiving inferior 'care' and believing that online vision tests provide more than they do. Online vision tests do not include a comprehensive examination of the patient's eye health by an eye care professional and do not take into account the patient's overall medical history.

Online vision tests attempt to replace one element of an eye examination, the refraction, in order to yield a prescription for glasses or contacts. The refraction is only one of many tests performed during an eye examination, and taken by itself, does not provide sufficient information regarding the treatment of a patient, including the prescription of glasses or contact lenses. It is not unlike taking a blood pressure reading at a kiosk and expecting a prescription; the reading does not provide sufficient information to determine a patient's needed course of therapy. In addition, changes in refractive status can be an underlying symptom of a number of eye or systemic conditions.

If serious conditions are left undiagnosed for long periods of time and a patient skips office visits with an eye care professional, the chance for identifying an effective treatment lessens and could lead to irreversible vision loss or worsening of a systemic disease. That is why a comprehensive adult eye and vision examination may include, but is not limited to, the following tests:  read more