An online vision test might check:
- How sharp your vision is
- If you have astigmatism, a condition that can make things blurry or stretched
- How sensitive your eyes are to light
- If you have color-blindness, meaning you can’t see colors correctly
These eye tests can be helpful in some situations, like if you break or lose your glasses when you’re far from home and you need a prescription to get new ones.
But they can’t replace regular visits to your eye doctor. That’s because they are only about vision -- they don’t check the health of your eyes. They can’t tell you if you have a condition that can threaten your sight, like cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. If you think you have an infection or you’ve injured your eyes, you should see an eye doctor.
Who Can Take Online Vision Tests?
Online vision tests are meant for healthy adults ages 18 to 39 who:
- Already have a prescription for eyeglasses and it’s not very strong
- Have already had a complete eye exam and know their eyes are healthy
- Have no risks for eye disease, like diabetes or high blood pressure
Even if you are the right age and healthy enough to take an online vision test, you should still get regular eye exams as often as your eye doctor recommends.
How Online Vision Tests Work
An online vision test can have a few steps. You’ll need a computer and some space to sit back so you can take the part of the test that checks your distance vision. Some tests also need you to have a smartphone so you can use an app. If you have prescription eyeglasses or contacts, chances are you’ll need to wear them for the test.
Some websites offer tests just to check your vision. If you get results that say you might have a problem, it will be up to you to see an eye doctor. Other websites offer prescriptions for glasses and contacts based on the results of your tests. An eye doctor in your state will check over your results and email you a prescription. Then you can order glasses or contacts online. Not every state will allow you to get an eye prescription this way.
The websites that offer prescriptions will charge a fee. Chances are your vision or health insurance won’t cover it. It might be cheaper for you to use your insurance to see an eye doctor. Check your plan to see what it covers.
Are Online Vision Tests Accurate?
Doctors disagree about whether online vision tests are accurate. And because they are still new, researchers haven’t studied them well enough to know for sure how they compare to an exam you’d get from your eye doctor.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t take the test correctly, you might not get an accurate result. Plus, the tests are not designed for people who need a strong prescription for eyeglasses.
The bottom line: Before you take an online vision test, make sure you understand what it can and can’t tell you. And keep your regular appointments with your eye doctor to make sure you’re healthy.