April 10, 2021

Home Optometry: At-Home Vision Testing and Eyeglass Purchase

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought many changes in the way business is run and this adverse environment has affected not just retailers and restaurants, but also medical care, especially in the area of vision and eye care. As ophthalmology and optometry practices closed in the summer of 2020, pressure for alternative ways to obtain and receive vision care created the underlying necessity that led to numerous "inventions" to allow individuals to both test their vision accurately enough to order eyeglasses from home, even if you have astigmatism or need bifocals.

Even I as a surgeon, suddenly needed prescription safety glasses to wear during surgical cases and needed a way to get my eye prescription numbers and order the glasses quickly.

Step 1: Vision Test to Obtain Refractive Error and Obtain EyeGlass Numbers

Enter EyeQue. The company's products are based on MIT patented technology that incorporates a smartphone-powered vision test rivaling traditional room-sized ophthalmic equipment to measure one's refractive error and provide EyeGlass Numbers (the lens power needed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism). It does require purchasing a device to attach to a smartphone and downloading the company's app. The devices are under $75 plus a $5 annual subscription to use the app. The steps to the vision test can be found here.

The latest version of EyeQue, the VisionCheck 2, can also test for reading vision, commonly know as near-vision ADD (NV ADD). This ADD number can be used for reading glasses, bifocals, or progressive lenses.

There are also portable, handheld all-in-one auto-refractors that do not utilize a smartphone that cost a LOT more such as the QuickSee and Retinomax.

If all you want to get done is a visual acuity test (20/20), you can accomplish this by downloading and using a Snellen Eye Chart (old-school way) or using an app (the newfangled way). The app I've used in the past for visual acuity is called Verana Vision Test. This app can also evaluate macular degeneration using an Amsler Grid and provide a score. 

Step 2: Pupillary Distance Measurement

Next, you need to obtain an accurate pupillary distance (PD) in order to purchase eyeglasses. Although EyeQue does provide an app that does this for free (PDCheck), there are other free apps one can use to quickly obtain PD. I personally used GlassesOn to obtain my PD. After downloading this app, it took about 10 seconds to get my PD following the app instructions.

Step 3: Order Eyeglasses

Once you have these numbers, you can order eyeglasses from pretty much any online eyeglass company. I personally use Zenni, mainly because I like the frames they carry and the prices are very good. Prescription safety glasses at Zenni cost only $35. Because the price was so surprisingly cheap, I went ahead and purchased an extra pair of progressive eyeglasses with transition lenses for $150 (anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint smudging, etc included)... which normally would have cost nearly $500 at a brick-and-mortars store.

If you already have eyeglass frames that you love, you can use an online lens replacement service like Boomerang. Otherwise known as re-lensing, the cost ranges from $65 to $145.

Now no piece of technology can ever replace a highly trained optometrist, but technology has come a long ways to at least providing at-home options for those interested.

What about Glaucoma?

As an aside, there is a new at-home way to measure eye pressures for those suffering from or is at risk of glaucoma called iCare HOME tonometer. It measures eye pressures via a puff of air. For this device, you do need an ophthalmologist partner to monitor your numbers. You could also get your own tonopen like the Diaton Tonometer which can measure eye pressures over the eyelid without the need for any eye drops or anesthesia. 

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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