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Are online eye exams effective?

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Quick Answer

An online eye exam is not as effective as an in-person comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist, explains the American Optometric Association. This is because online eye exams focus on refraction only and do not critically examine the patient's eye to identify other health issues that could cause eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

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Certain online eye exams examine the refraction of the eye in healthy patients between the ages of 18 and 40, reports the American Optometric Association. However, the shift in the patient's vision could be a result of a condition such as cataracts, and the patient may not be aware of it. An online eye exam cannot reveal this.

There is also the possibility that vision problems are as a result of diabetes, reports the American Optometric Association. Unfortunately, diabetes affects about 8 percent of Americans, and about seven million patients do not know they suffer from the disease. An in-person visit can identify and address such health problems so that the patient receives better treatment to improve his eyesight.

Online eye exams test how well a person can see at various distances, states Healthline. However, an in-person comprehensive exam considers a patient's medical history and measures his eye function. Comprehensive in-person tests measure the patient's eye pressure and conduct a peripheral vision exam to test for glaucoma, and test his eyes' dilation to determine if he suffers from age-related macular degeneration.

An online eye exam may reveal a patient has 20/20 vision, but this does not mean his eyes are clear or healthy, reports Healthline. Therefore, these online eye exams are not a substitute or an alternative to in-person eye exams.

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