Technology has revolutionized our health. Wearable fitness bands track our steps, calories and heart rate. Other apps watch you while you sleep.
But a new health tech company says your smartphone and a computer can replace visits to your doctor’s office for this common but vital test. Some doctors approve of this cheaper and more convenient alternative. Others are working to get it banned.
Chicago-based Opternative offers an in-home eye exam that you give yourself using your web browser and smartphone. To date, 65,000 patients have already taken the online test
Here’s how it works: In a darkened room, you visit the company’s website on your computer. After filling in a general health survey, including “what is your shoe size?” you take their test. Knowing how big your feet are may seem random, but it helps determine how far away to position yourself from the screen.
With phone in hand, you answer questions about what you’re seeing: lines, dots and rows of letters in varying sizes. It’s very much like a traditional test in your eye doctor’s office that takes about 30 minutes.
Opternative’s online test is free. However, it costs $40 to have your results reviewed by a doctor in your state and your prescription for contacts or eyeglasses emailed to you.
Some eye-care professionals worry the in-home test will replace regular eye health exams. Serious problems like glaucoma and cataracts can only be detected by your doctor.
For that reason, lawmakers in Indiana and Georgia have banned the test. Opternative is currently available in 33 states.