8 On Your Side: What you should know before taking an online vision test

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Chances are you’re one of the millions of Americans who need some kind of corrective lenses. In fact, 75 percent of us wear glasses or contact lenses to see.

Problem is, getting the perfect pair of specs is a process. That’s why a new breed of vision test is promising much quicker results from the convenience of your home computer.

Opternative is one of the most popular online eye exam companies. The process is simple and self-explanatory. The site takes you step by step through calibrating your computer and marking off the proper distance in order to take the exam.

Once you’re ready, you use your smartphone as a kind of remote control to answer questions from the screen. The system even reassures you halfway through that there are no right or wrong answers.

Within 24 hours you can get a prescription, written by a board certified ophthalmologist for eyeglasses, contacts or both for just $60. But, the seemingly simple process isn’t getting the approval of everyone.

Dr. Stuart Harrell is Lakeland optometrist. He says the online vision tests could create some real dangers. “You’re getting nothing that helps you understand the health of your eye,” Harrell said.

“With dilation, you can see potential brain tumors. You can pick up auto-immune disease. You can pick up retinal holes, retinal tears. You can pick up hypertensive issues. You can pick up sickle cell anemia,” he said.

In the fine print on its website, Opternative agrees it’s online exam is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

That didn’t stop Danielle Dixon. She took an online eye exam, got her prescription the next day and loved the ease and convenience of the process.

“My prescription has been the same for the past few years, so I felt very comfortable doing the online eye exam,” Dixon said.

Dr. Andrea Thau, the president of the American Optometric Association, says online eye exam disclaimers don’t go far enough. She worries consumers are getting a false sense of confidence about the exams and the results.

“These tests are dangerous. They are not an eye examination. They are not even fully capable of determining a prescription or the proper analysis of what’s right for a patient,” Thau said.

Her organization, which represents 33,000 practicing eye doctors nationwide, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate online eye exams, ensuring patients are ultimately protected.STORIES THAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-

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