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New technology offers DIY eye exams

Posted: 11:36 PM, Feb 09, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-09 23:36:11-05

New technology makes it possible to get an eye exam and a prescription for new glasses or contacts without leaving your home. All you need is a computer and smart phone.

Chukwuma Nwaomah has worn glasses and contacts since he was in the third grade. Yearly appointments to the eye doctor became tiring. He decided to try something new: an online eye exam he can take from home.

"I was a little hesitant at first, but one I got the hange of it - just breezed right through it," Nwaomah said.

A day later he had his new prescription in hand.

"It saved me some time as far as getting to the eye doctor," he said.

He's not alone. Aaron Dallek, CEO and co-founder of Opternative - one of several online eye exam companies - says they've had tens of thousands of people sign up to take the at home exam.

"All you need is a computer and a smart phone. It takes 20-25 minutes and you need 10-12 feet of space," he said.

Dallek says the online eye exam, which is just a vision test using letters and shapes, is similar to what you might find at an eye doctor's office. 

Once you finish the test, your results are sent to an ophthalmologist in your state who evaluates them and write you a prescription you can use anywhere. 

Doctor Stephen Loomis, president of the American Optometric Association doesn't think the tests are enough.

"I just don't understand how just looking at those numbers that come back from an automated system can really tell the doctor what he or she needs to know regarding what that patient's prescription ought to be," he said.

Loomis worries that patients will be misled into thinking they've had a complete exam, when in reality the vision is only a small part of what eye doctors look for. 

Right now, the Opternative eye exam is only for patients 18-40 years old. It costs $40 for either glasses or contacts and $60 for both. They do not accept vision insurance at this time.