Telemedicine is not a new concept. Due to the merger between technology and medicine, more people have access to doctors and medical professionals can perform remote consultations with specialists when faced with complex cases. Similar technology has made it to optometry, but it is not necessarily good for your eyesight.
It's Too Easy To Cheat
Eye exams extend beyond personal benefit; employers may require an eye examination before someone is cleared for employment or as part of a yearly physical. Unless the person requesting the eye exam is aware there are online options available, they may easily accept basic results from an online eye doctor. This makes it easy for patients to cheat the system if they are so inclined.
During an online eye examination, you are given a set of instructions to help you achieve accurate results. You must stand several feet away from your computer screen to read the chart or other images and key-in your responses using your smartphone. Since there is no way of knowing if the patient is following instructions exactly, they can easily stand closer to their computer screen to make their vision appear better.
Online eye exams require you to answer questions about your health and any symptoms you may be experiencing that could indicate a serious systemic or ophthalmological problem. It is up to the patient to relay accurate information, which could potentially disqualify them from an online eye exam. Patients who simply want a new prescription or need to show they completed an eye exam may not tell the whole truth.
You Get What You Pay For
Online eye exams are geared toward people who want a simple renewal of their vision correction prescription. They may also need a slight adjustment if there have been changes in their vision. Since the service is less expensive than a traditional eye exam, online eye exams are limited in the types of problems that can be diagnosed. During a routine eye exam, not only are you tested for your corrective needs, but your optometrist will evaluate your eye health.
Many systemic conditions can have ocular manifestations, making your eye doctor an ally in your overall health. Not only can your optometrist point out concerns that should be addressed with your primary care doctor, such as eye changes consistent with hypertension or diabetes, but inflammatory changes in the eye or signs of eye cancer may warrant follow-up with a specialist.
Since many health insurance programs do not cover routine eye exams, affordability can be an attractive feature of online eye exams. Fortunately there are many options available to fit within almost any budget. You may want to speak with an optometrist in your area who takes self-pay patients and ask if they are willing to work out a payment arrangement. Discount cards and budget-friendly vision centers are another option. If you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, there may be social programs available to help offset the cost of yearly eye exams and vision correction, since diabetics are at a high risk for blindness.
There's No Way To Guarantee Accuracy
If you have picture-perfect health, but just need vision correction, you may face another problem. There is no way to be sure your online prescription is accurate since the exam is performed remotely. When you have a traditional eye exam, your optometrist may spend extra time adjusting your lenses until they can find the best fit for your eyes. This increases the accuracy of your prescription, especially if you are between two magnifications.
An inaccurate prescription can seem like a small price to pay when you saved money and did not have to take time off work for an appointment. Unfortunately, being undercorrected or overcorrected can lead to headaches. Some people even experience nausea when they have the wrong vision prescription. If you need an additional vision exam to correct the problem, it would have been less expensive and quicker to have the right prescription the first time.
The lure of online eye exams can lead people to make decisions that may compromise their eyes and overall health. Before you decide to take a shortcut, consider how investing a little extra time and money can make you feel more confident in your eye exam. For more information, contact a practice such as Montgomery Eye Center.