Can Smartphone Eye Exams Undermine the Optometry Industry?

With new vision smartphone technology on the market promising to save time and medical costs, optometrists may wonder whether their patients will be tempted to forgo their annual eye exams this year. An app-based vision test certainly has appeal; it requires no in-person appointment and can usually be completed in three short tests. A closer analysis, however, reveals the setbacks of the quick fix.


How do Online Eye Exams Work?

Online eye exams, while advertised to help patients avoid the hassle of making an appointment at the doctor’s office, are inadequate substitutes for comprehensive eye exams. The process for conducting a personal eye exam appears deceptively simple online; according to online eye exam websites, a customer only needs to visit the site, purchase a personal vision tracker, create an account and subscribe to the service, download the app, and conduct the tests from the comfort of home. Yet, the results from these tests are correspondingly simple—they only indicate whether eyeglasses correction is needed and whether the patient is experiencing colorblindness. Like many technology-driven solutions today, the online eye exam offers convenience but not comprehensiveness.


Problems with an Online Vision Test

There are a few problems with relying on this personal, at-home approach to long-term eye care. First, people experiencing visual issues (blurry vision, problems with depth perception, astigmatism) may have difficulty conducting or interpreting the visual acuity exam accurately, and the results will often require verification by a trained professional. The personal vision tracking devices that are required for app-based tests are also not as sophisticated or thorough as the vision screeners used in optometrists’ offices. This is a particularly important distinction for patients in the early stages of glaucoma, for whom early detection could change the course of the disease and required treatment. Finally, it is always helpful for a physician to help explain the obtuse medical jargon that is used to diagnose visual defects. Smartphone optometry does not allow for this critical exchange of questions and clarifications.  

vision screener

Vision Screeners Provide Accurate Results when Checking for Eye Conditions

Optometrists are trained to perform comprehensive eye exams, which include visual acuity exams as well as tests for hyperopia, astigmatism, sharpness, glare sensitivity, fusion, depth perception, and night vision, among many other visual conditions and indicators. Further, most optometrists will check for a series of other rare and more serious eye conditions, including glaucoma, visual field defects, retinal pathology, macular degeneration, cataracts and early signs of diabetes. Many of these tests are made possible by specific vision screeners designed for optometrists that have been proven to deliver accurate and reliable results.  


Benefits of a Vision Screener

In addition to delivering a wide range of tests, the vision screeners for optometrists offer a number of other benefits. The V1 Vision Screener by Depisteo screens for the majority of general visual problems in 2-5 mins, saving time for patients and physicians. The instrument is easily customizable for optometrists’ varied needs, and it can automatically invoice certain tests covered by Medicare to reduce logistics and hassle (including glaucoma and the AMSLER grid test). It is computerized, allowing for fast results exporting, immediate input of patient responses, and optimized test sequencing. Further, it comes with a 2-year warranty, can be adapted to patients’ progressive lenses, includes a sensitivity detector to ensure correct head position, and inclines for patient adaptation and comfort.