Are Online Eye Tests Reliable?

These days we rely more than ever on online services, and this extends to purchases of all kinds, with more options emerging all the time. Glasses are no exception to this. However, there is an issue because in order to buy prescription lenses, you obviously need a prescription. If you go into a physical store, there will be an eye doctor there who can give you a vision test. When ordering online, however, if you don’t already have a prescription from a visit to the eye doctor, most of these services offer you an online eye test. Are these online tests accurate?


Are Online Eye Tests Reliable? in Olympia

The obvious question is, are these online tests any good?

The short answer is no.

In fact the leading online eye test (which has an eye doctor look at results) says in fine print at the bottom of their website “Our online eye exam is not a replacement for a comprehensive eye health examination.” So don’t take our word for it, take their own! 

American Family Vision Clinic

The Dangers of Online Eye Tests

Online eye tests are just that, simple vision tests like you might have received in grade school. All it can do is measure your basic vision to determine nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism to determine an eyeglass prescription for you.

However, since this is a test that is essentially a self test, as opposed to one carried out by a trained professional, its basic accuracy is very questionable. What many do not realize is that when an optometrist performs an eye exam to determine your prescription, some measure of judgement on their part is required, based on factors such as your age, profession, or hobbies. These factors can lead them to recommend specific lens types better suited to your needs.

Online vision tests are incapable of this.

In fact, studies show that almost half of prescription glasses ordered online have incorrect prescriptions or fail to meet safety standards.

Because of this the American Optometry Association (AOA) has made statements condemning online eye tests.

Furthermore, proper eye exams do far more than simply testing your vision. If you only use these basic vision tests to judge your eye health, you can put your eyes, and your vision, at risk.


What else is lacking from an online eye exam?

Perhaps the most crucial difference between an online eye exam and a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor is all the other things an eye doctor will test for aside from your prescription. An eye exam is so much more than a vision screening, in fact the American Optometric Association says that a vision screening covers only 4% of a comprehensive eye exam. 

A comprehensive eye exam looks at the entire patient, and starts with the doctor reviewing the patient history to have a more complete understanding of the risks and lifestyle of each patient. The patient history will inform the eye doctor what additional tests are needed, they may include evaluations of depth perception, binocular vision, eye focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking,  color vision, eye muscle movements, peripheral or side vision, and the way your pupils respond to light. In addition an eye doctor will also have a variety of advanced imaging cameras to assess ocular health of specific parts of the eye. This screening is absolutely essential for patients with predisposition for diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration among many other ocular diseases. 

What else is lacking from an online eye exam?
Are There Any Benefits to Online Eye Tests?

Are There Any Benefits to Online Eye Tests?

As we have outlined above, there are few benefits to online eye tests. However, if you suspect you need prescription eyeglasses, or a stronger prescription than you currently have, taking a quick online eye test can potentially confirm that for you. However, it is still strongly recommended that you then make an in-person appointment with an optometrist to get a more accurate test and prescription.

Make the Best Choice for Your Eye Health

Ultimately, the choice is in your hands. In matters of health, the easy, convenient way is not always best. 

Dr. Zurcher cartoon


While obviously cheaper and more convenient, the disadvantages of online eye tests strongly outweigh their potential benefits, and thus, it is highly recommended that people seek out an optometrist to perform eye exams in person.
Call our office at (360) 491-2121 or click Book an Appointment to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with our caring and knowledgeable eye doctors. 


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Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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