Using your smart phone, you can now take a vision test to get glasses or contacts

FOX 32 NEWS - If you need a prescription for eyeglasses or contacts, you may now be able to get one from your home without seeing a doctor.

A Chicago startup has created an online vision test to make it easier for some people to get their prescriptions. But it is also raising some concerns.

"I thought it was really easy, really fast,” said Katherine Cherry.

So instead of using the device known as a Fouroptor to take a vision exam, all you need now is your computer and your cellphone.

The name of the company is called ‘Opternative.’ Ophthalmologist Dr.  Steven Lee is one of the founders.

"Opternative is the first online vision test that delivers a prescription for both glasses and contact lenses to a patient like yourself or anyone watching to the comfort of your own home,” said Dr. Lee.

Sound impossible? Here’s how it works. You register online, answer a few basic questions, including about your health, and then you link your computer to your smart phone via text and your smart phone becomes a remote control.

For instance, you may be told to cover up an eye and look at the screen and answer which of the characters look different and after a series of questions, all the results are sent to an ophthalmologist to review and issue your prescription if deemed appropriate.

Lee says Opternative isn't an eye exam, but a vision test.  You must be between 18 and 50 and your eyes must be healthy. You also can't have diabetes, high blood pressure or recent eye surgery.

Once you're done, you are charged $40 for an eyeglass prescription or $60 for a prescription for both glasses and contacts. It’s a concept that is growing in popularity. So far, it's available in 39 states.

But that has some health experts concerned.  Dr. Eric Baas is an ophthalmologist with the Illinois College of Optometry.  He says a vision test is not a substitute for an eye exam and he and the American Optometric Association worry not only about the accuracy of Opternative, but also that this type of testing could lead to an underdiagnoses of serious eye conditions.

"This test doesn't even cover one single element of the 12 elements that make up a comprehensive eye exam which opens the door for the potential to miss potential sight threatening diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts,” said Dr. Baas.

Dr. Lee says Opternative is not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam, but a great option to get a renewed prescription in 15 minutes or less. He adds anyone who is red flagged because of health concerns is referred to a doctor.

For Katherine Cherry, a busy mother of three, convenience was key.

"My contacts were great and I've been really happy with results,” she said.

“Opternative" says it's trying to work with the eye community on a global level to bring vision screening to people who don't have access to this type of test.

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