AOA warns patients to be cautious of at-home eye exam or vision test product claims
Some companies are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and asserting that their devices make it easy to conduct an eye exam at home. The truth of the matter is, there are a number of components that are part of an in-person, comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry and there is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, at-home device or app that people can use to self-conduct all of the elements of a proper eye examination. The American Optometric Association (AOA) warns that it is more important than ever to be aware of products that give the mistaken impression that their devices can substitute for a comprehensive eye examination or that they can shortcut getting a contact lens or eyeglasses prescription.
"Eye exams with doctors of optometry, America's primary eye health and vision care providers, are essential health care that provide more than just a prescription but are also a critical component of patient's preventive health regimen. During this time, patients should work with their doctors to make use of health technologies that enhance care, and not be misled by questionable marketing claims that undermine it," AOA President Barbara L. Horn, O.D., says. "Patients need to be wary of any company that claims its device can replace the care that a doctor provides."
The AOA is joining patient advocacy organizations, state attorneys general and the media in warning the public about the lack of effectiveness and potential dangers of these devices and their marketing promises. With the proliferation of these online apps, optometry and other health care providers have continued to raise concerns about their safety and efficacy—including the potential for inaccurate prescriptions, missed diagnoses of serious and general health conditions, and the creation of a prescription with little input from an eye doctor.
"Although the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing out the best in many companies across our country, there are those few who are taking this opportunity to mislead and misinform the public," says the National Consumers League. "NCL wants to remind consumers to be aware and understand that there's no substitute for an annual, in-person comprehensive eye exam or for the doctor-patient relationship that's at the heart of healthy outcomes, especially when it concerns our precious eye health and vision."
States are beginning to reopen health care access and eye doctors across the country are starting to safely provide comprehensive eye health examinations once again. Patients looking to schedule their annual eye examinations or update their prescriptions should contact their eye doctors, who are employing in-person and telehealth protocols to provide necessary refills and other eye health and vision care with one goal in mind—to protect everyone's health and safety.
For more information on eye health and vision, or to find a local AOA doctor of optometry, visit AOA.org.
The AOA has consistently monitored the medical device landscape and alerts authorities to products that it believes merit further scrutiny. These efforts have impact. Just last year, the FDA announced the recall of the Visibly (formerly known as Opternative) online vision test. The device was being marketed to consumers without authorization from the FDA, in violation of federal medical device and patient safety laws. More recently, the AOA asked the FDA to investigate another company's online test it has identified as being similar to one recalled in 2019.
Media Contact: Yakesha Cooper, Ycooper@aoa.org.
About the American Optometric Association
The American Optometric Association (AOA) is the leading authority on and advocate for quality eye health care, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and optometric professionals. As the sole primary eye care provider in many communities across America, doctors of optometry are often a patient's first entry point into the health care system, and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disorders, diseases, and injuries that affect the eye and visual system. Through nationwide public health awareness activities, AOA reinforces the importance of eye health and vision care and the overall health benefits of in-person, comprehensive eye examinations with AOA doctors of optometry for all Americans.
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