October 02, 2020

Online and remote eye exams

Dear Consumer Ed:

I need to get some more contact lenses, but my vision has changed since my last eye exam. I’ve heard about online and remote exams and thought this could be a convenient way to get a prescription while minimizing my risk of exposure to Covid-19. Are these exams accurate and legitimate?

Consumer Ed says:

Telemedicine technology can be a wonderful complement to comprehensive in-person visits with medical practitioners as a way to address concerns for your health and well-being.  However, it should not be a replacement for in-person comprehensive care.  

An online, app-based eye exam involves a virtual vision test that a consumer conducts through an online app. However, importantly the exam does not check for eye health, so issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degenera­tion or signs of early diabetes could go undetected. Online, app-based eye exams are not permitted in Georgia.

A remote exam on the other hand, requires that a consumer appear at the business for the exam, although the Doctor of Optometry is not physically in the room with the patient. Instead, the provider appears by video screen, remotely conducting the exam and operating the equipment in the patient’s examination room from a separate location. While this type of exam is permitted under Georgia law, it must be performed at a provider’s office, hospital-based setting or hospital health system office. Consumers should be aware that there have been complaints about remote eye exam companies providing inaccurate prescriptions and then refusing to refund consumers’ money. It is therefore very important that before you agree to a remote exam, you carefully research the company and make sure it has the appropriate licensing and FDA approval.

To verify that your eye care provider is licensed, or if you have questions or concerns related to the quality of your eye care, you can contact the Georgia Board of Optometry.

If you believe have been unfairly or deceptively treated related to an online app or health care provider, you can submit a complaint to the Georgia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 404-651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

Related to: