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  • Getting a glasses prescription online: What you should know

    Published Sep. 25, 2015

    It seems like you can get anything on the Internet these days. One of the latest things on offer is online vision testing for obtaining a prescription for corrective eyeglasses.

    Following news stories on the topic, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has provided the public with some guidelines to keep in mind when considering these kinds of services.

    The Academy is generally supportive of the use of new technologies to improve efficiency and widen access to eye care services. But, as with any new medical technology, online vision testing needs to be evaluated over time for safety and efficacy.

    The Academy advises the public to keep in mind the following information when considering the use of online vision testing for obtaining a prescription for corrective eyeglasses:

    • These services may be appropriate for people 18-39 years of age with non-severe corrective eyeglass prescriptions and no symptoms of eye disease. They may be best used as a follow-up tool to update an old glasses prescription for adults who have previously had an in-person comprehensive eye exam that confirmed they have healthy eyes.
    • These tests are not recommended for people under 18 years of age, those 40 and older and anyone at any age with a severe eyeglass prescription or those with symptoms or risk factors for eye disease. People with symptoms or risk factors should see an ophthalmologist. They should also have follow-up visits at the frequency their ophthalmologist recommends.
    • The very best way to protect one’s vision is by having in-person comprehensive eye exams at the frequency recommended by the Academy.
    • Providers of online vision testing services should clearly emphasize that adults 18-39 years of age still need to have comprehensive eye exams every five to 10 years even if they have no symptoms or risk factors. These exams can detect common eye diseases and conditions that have few or no symptoms and can lead to blindness if not properly treated.
    • All corrective eyewear prescriptions must always be approved by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
    • Patients should be aware that online vision testing services may not offer prescriptions for patients that have high-power or irregular prescriptions.

    “What the public needs to understand is that that these online tests can measure the power of your eyeglass prescription, but they can’t detect eye diseases that often have hidden symptoms,” said Michael X. Repka, M.D., MBA, medical director of Government Affairs for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “So, while online tests for glasses prescription may be okay for adults 18-39 years of age with healthy eyes, they are not appropriate for those with an eye condition or risk factors for eye disease – such as having diabetes or a family history of glaucoma – or for those who have not had a recent eye examination.”

    In regards to using online vision testing for obtaining a prescription for contact lenses: currently, there is insufficient data available from online providers about their fitting, prescribing and monitoring processes for contact lens prescription. The Academy looks forward to reviewing the data and providing guidance when it is made available.