An online eye test may seem like a convenient way to check your vision or get an eyeglass prescription, but beware, these tests aren’t a complete eye exam at all. In fact, they may even be dangerous.
What is an online eye test really testing?
An online eye test is actually not an eye test at all but just a vision or sight test - and a partial test at that. It is designed to measure your visual acuity and refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) and to determine an eyeglass prescription.
Given that there is no one with medical training performing or checking the accuracy of the test, it is questionable how well the exam does even this. In fact, when an eye doctor does a refraction for glasses or contact lenses, it also involves judgement on the doctor’s part. The eye doctor will often adjust the prescription slightly based on the patient’s age, occupation or hobbies. or even past patient history. The doctor may prescribe a prism in the lenses to help with binocular vision. or lenses for nearpoint stress.
The glasses prescription is only one very small part of a complete eye exam. If it takes the place of a regular comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor, you may be putting your eyes and vision at serious risk.
A Comprehensive Eye Exam - Where Online Tests Fail
Even if the eyes see clearly and you have 20/20 vision, there may still be vision problems or eye disease present without pain, blurred vision or other symptoms. What the online eye test fails to measure is your complete visual health and capacity (beyond just visual acuity), the curvature of the eye (which is needed for accurate lens prescriptions- especially for contact lenses) and an assessment of the internal and external health of the eye itself.
Just as we need regular medical and dental checkups as a part of preventative health care to prevent disease and maintain our health, we also need regular eye exams. A vision test does not suffice. A comprehensive eye exam will examine much more than just how well you see. It will also check for visual processing, color vision, depth perception and proper eye movement. It will measure your eye pressure, examine the back of your eye and look for early signs of eye disease or conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, tumors and high blood pressure - many of which threaten your eyes and vision if not caught early. The front of the eyes are also examined with the use of a biomicroscope.
If you do have any vision loss, the doctor will be able to determine if there is any serious underlying problem that is causing the disturbance in your vision. Just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Many serious eye conditions develop gradually without any symptoms. Many of these conditions threaten the eyes and even general health if not caught early. When undetected, they can cause permanent and irreversible damage to your vision.
Complete eye exams are the best way to detect these early and treat them before they develop into serious problems.
Whether online vision tests are inaccurate, misleading or simply insufficient, they can fail to provide essential information and can delay or prevent vision saving treatments.
Will an Online Eye Test Really Save you Money?
Besides the fact that many eye exams are covered by insurance, the eye exam you are getting from an eye doctor is much more thorough and comprehensive than an online eye test, so you are not comparing apples to apples. The eye doctor’s exam uses state of the art equipment and performs a complete and professional evaluation of your vision and eye health. There is simply no comparing this to a self administered test on a computer screen.