ONLINE AND REMOTE EYE EXAMS
Dear Consumer Ed:
I need to get some more contact lenses, but my vision has changed since my last eye exam. I’ve heard about online and remote exams and thought this could be a convenient way to get a prescription while minimizing my risk of exposure to Covid-19. Are these exams accurate and legitimate?
Consumer Ed says:
Telemedicine technology can be a wonderful complement to comprehensive in-person visits with medical practitioners as a way to address concerns for your health and well-being. However, it should not always be a replacement for real-life experts.
An online, app-based eye exam involves a virtual vision test that a consumer conducts through an online app. However, the exam does not check for eye health, so issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration or signs of early diabetes could go undetected. Online, app-based eye exams are not permitted in Georgia.
A remote exam or tele-optometry, on the other hand, requires that a consumer appear at the business for the exam, although the optometrist or physician is not physically in the room with the patient. Instead, the optometrist appears by video screen, remotely conducting the exam and operating the equipment in the patient’s examination room from a separate location. This type of exam is permitted under Georgia law, but only if it is performed at a physician’s office, optometrist’s office, hospital-based setting or hospital health system office. While these exams may be less expensive than a traditional in-person exam, there have been many complaints about remote eye exam companies providing inaccurate prescriptions and then refusing to refund consumers’ money. It is therefore very important that before you agree to a remote exam, you carefully research the company and make sure it has the appropriate licensing and FDA approval. It is also important that any examination performed via tele-optometry include a thorough inspection of your eye health.
To verify that your eye care provider is licensed, or to submit a complaint related to the quality of your eye care, you can contact the Georgia Board of Optometry.
If you believe an eye care provider has treated you unfairly or deceptively, you can submit a complaint to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division at 404-651-8600 or by visiting consumer.ga.gov.