Statement: American Optometric Association Continues to Voice Concerns over Latest Online Vision Test Apps

Contact: Deirdre Middleton
703.837.1347; dmiddleton@aoa.org

May 23, 2017 -- With blindness being the biggest fear in America, the American Optometric Association (AOA) tenaciously upholds the highest standards when it comes to patient eye health and vision care. Through the delivery of personalized health care, doctors of optometry assure precise and healthy vision, identify and treat glaucoma and serious infections and ensure early diagnosis of immediate threats to overall health, including hypertension, stroke and diabetes, which may have no obvious signs or symptoms. This is precisely what makes these clinically unproven tests, like Prescription Check and Opternative, so dangerous - they give patients a false sense of security. In recent years, instead of using technology as doctors do to save lives and achieve improved outcomes, some have used it as a smokescreen to try to mislead the public and undermine very basic quality care standards. The AOA and our state affiliates are proud of our success in alerting the public, the news media, elected officials and regulators to false product claims and taking action to safeguard public health. 

When patients rely on an app for an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, they can receive inaccurate or misleading information and potentially delay essential sight saving treatment. An online eye test does not completely cover any one of the 12 components of a regular in-person, comprehensive eye exam. National agencies, including the National Eye Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree that a comprehensive eye examination is the only way to know whether your eyes and vision are healthy. And last year, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine issued a national call to action to make eye health a priority. Touting virtual technologies that are not proven and subvert care sets us all back.

Americans have voiced their concerns loud and clear. Other online vision apps have been put to the test and ultimately failed to gain consumer trust. According to one survey, 92 percent of participants would prefer getting a comprehensive eye exam.

Doctors of optometry use advanced, proven technology every day. They can see more and detect more and help patients because of them. The progressive answer to eye and vision health care is not to focus on being the next big consumer brand or app. Instead, innovators need to focus on delivering tools that help advance patient care, because "virtual" care is no substitute for actual health care. The public should know that there's less here than meets the eye. In fact, it would have been hard to predict that any company could offer less than the already discredited online sight apps, but that appears to be the case here.

 About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, founded in 1898, is the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation's health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals and optometry students. Doctors of optometry take a leading role in patient care with respect to eye and vision care, as well as general health and well-being. As primary health care providers, doctors of optometry have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage ocular disorders, diseases and injuries and systemic diseases that manifest in the eye. Doctors of optometry provide more than two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For more information on eye health and vision topics, and to find a doctor of optometry near you, visit aoa.org.