Online vision apps can be a great resource for health-related information, but if you rely on them to preserve your eye health and detect potential problems, you could be doing more harm than good. Eye health is critical to overall good health. If someone chooses to forego an annual eye exam with a doctor of optometry because they think an online test or mobile app screening is enough, they're making a mistake that could put their vision and health at risk.
Here are some of the many reasons why patients should not rely on online eye screenings or mobile apps:
1. Vision test apps or online tests can't diagnose or treat serious eye problems.
These tools simply use measurements to gauge what is known as visual acuity, or sensitivity. However, many vision and eye health conditions don't have obvious signs or symptoms in their earliest stages. Online tests can miss serious conditions that a comprehensive eye exam would catch. They may be designed to test for near-sightedness or far-sightedness, but can't adequately evaluate overall eye health. For example, an online screening might be able to detect symptoms of near-sightedness, but isn't designed to catch signs of glaucoma.
2. Patients may not get the care they need.
Even if an app accurately indicates a problem with vision acuity, patients might not follow up as recommended with a doctor of optometry, who can diagnose issues and work with you to develop solutions to eye health and vision care needs. Additionally, a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an optometrist can be an important step in identifying health conditions that might not have been detected otherwise, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. An optometrist can help you understand the seriousness of the condition and suggest and implement appropriate treatment.
3. You could be risking your eye or overall health.
Online vision screening apps might not catch signs of a serious problem. Missing the signs of an eye health or overall health issue can put you at risk. "People may think they're doing something good by using a mobile vision app," Quinn says. "Unfortunately, an online eye test does not completely cover any one of the 12 components of a regular in-person, comprehensive eye exam, something everyone needs to ensure they're protecting and preserving their vision." —BPT