Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Mo. (March 6, 2014)—To protect consumers' eye and vision health, the American Optometric Association is warning the public about the false claims that internet companies can provide an online "eye exam." These claims are confusing and misleading. Consumers should understand that only an in-person exam by a doctor of optometry or an ophthalmologist can determine how well they see and whether or not they need corrective lenses. In addition, every day, in patients seen for "routine" examinations when they have no symptoms, doctors of optometry diagnose and manage diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts. Anyone claiming to perform an eye exam without physically examining a patient is offering insufficient, ambiguous information and is contributing to a patient believing-incorrectly-that his or her eye health needs have been met.
The claims of those who market online eye testing should be thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated; these claims may harm patients and hinder care needed to diagnose important underlying, and often asymptomatic, health problems. Any delay in intervention will result in progressive damage to vision, and more costly and intensive treatments later in life.
Consumers will be at significant risk regarding proper diagnosis and treatment of potentially sight-threatening and even life-threatening diseases if they are not properly evaluated by an eye doctor. Doctors of Optometry and other physicians are able to interpret refractive error changes and the possible implications of those changes to the consumer's state of eye and general health.
"To help safeguard consumers, the AOA is closely monitoring Internet-linked assertions about eye exams without doctors," says Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., president of the AOA. "And, we'll play an even more active role in fact-checking false claims.
"The AOA provides the public a helpful guide to the components of a comprehensive eye exam on its website.
About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.
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