Online eye vision tests have been popping up all over the place in recent years, and will only continue to do so into the future. In this article, I will explain what an online eye vision test is, when it is appropriate to use them, and where to go to get one.
What is a ‘Vision Test’?
Our vision has many different facets, as such, a ‘vision test’ is a vague term that can refer to many different things. Similarly, the term ‘online vision test’ can be used to describe many different types of tests.
Therefore, when searching for an online eye vision test, it is important to know exactly what kind of test you’re looking for.
Are you looking to:
- Measure your visual acuity?
- Detect the presence of astigmatism?
- Measure your contrast sensitivity?
- Test your color vision?
- Test your binocular vision?
- Screen for macular health problems?
- Get a prescription for glasses/contacts?
Nowadays, these are all tests that are being offered online, and each of them could be thought of as a ‘vision test’ in one way or another.
We can break online eye vision tests down into 2 main categories: Those that are free and those that are not.
With the exception of the online vision tests that offer to give you a prescription for either glasses or contact lenses, they are generally all free. If your intention is to receive a prescription, you will have to pay.
In this article, I will focus on the paid online vision tests that give you a prescription in the end. For a summary of free online visions tests that simply measure certain facets of your vision, read this article.
Paid Online Eye Vision Tests
What they do:
Paid online eye vision eye tests are a series of steps with very specific instructions that result in values for your eyeglass or contact lens prescription.
Online vision tests that measure your prescription require an optometrist or ophthalmologist that is licensed in your state to review and review the results of the online test and issue the final prescription.
Who they are for:
Online eye vision tests that will generate a prescription that you can use to order glasses or contact lenses are not for everybody.
Every test will have certain restrictions. In general, they are:
- Location – Not all states allow prescriptions from online eye vision tests
- Age – These tests are only from adult aged people, usually in the 18-45 range
- Health – You must have no prior history of health complications to qualify
- Prescription – Online vision tests can only handle prescriptions within a certain range.
- Time of Last Complete Eye Exam – If you haven’t had a complete in-person eye exam within a certain time frame, you will be denied. Typically the requirement is 4-5 years.
The advantages of doing an online eye vision test instead of going to your eye doctor’s to do it are many.
Cost – The cost of an online vision test is much less than an in-person eye exam. The average eye exam in the United States is $120 (where is this figure from?). This will only get you a glasses prescription. If you want contact lens prescription, you have to add anywhere from $40 to upwards of $100.
An online vision test costs a fraction of that. A common price structure for an online vision test is $40 for a glasses or contact lens prescription or $60 for both.
Note: It is a little misleading to compare the cost of a comprehensive eye exam with that of an online vision test because one offers much more value than the other. It would be more accurate to compare the cost an in-person prescription check with an eye doctor to the cost of an online prescription check. If you did this, the cost difference may be significantly less depending on the individual eye doctor clinic.
Time – The time it takes to complete an online eye vision test is approximately 20 minutes.
An in-person prescription check doesn’t take nearly as much time. A skilled eye doctor can measure your prescription in under 2 minutes. However, when you factor in the travel time, and the time spent in the waiting room, there’s no question that online prescription check is less time consuming than an in-person one.
Comfort – Some people like to get dressed when they leave the house to complete all their appointments, and some people like to stay in and get things done in their pajamas. If you are the latter, doing taking an online vision test is for you.
For a prescription to be issued from an online vision test, it must first be analyzed and finalized by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. This means that there will be a delay between the time when you complete your online test and when you get your prescription. This delay is about 1 day for most online eyeglass prescription services.
What about the accuracy?
Many eye doctors will claim that prescriptions acquired from online vision tests are less accurate than those produced from in-person examinations.
So far, there are no studies showing that the results of online vision tests are any less accurate than in-person checks. Additionally, all accounts that I’ve read from people who have had both tests and compared the results say that the results were identical.
Where to get them
There are several places to get a paid vision test online that will result in a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, and there will certainly be more as time goes. Currently, the most popular ones are:
Opternative was the first to start providing online eye vision tests, so it broke down a lot of the barriers in the industry. They use their patented eye care technology to deliver your online vision test and calculate your prescription.
- Age: 18-55 years old
- Health: You must have healthy eyes and no medical conditions that can potentially affect your eyes, such as diabetes.
- Prescription Limits: You will not get a prescription if your numbers fall outside of -10.00 to +3.50 for the Sphere and/or -0.25 to
- -3.00 in the Cylinder and/or +0.25 to +4.00 in the Add.
- Location: Currently, Opternative is only available in 37 states.
An Opternative online vision test is $50 for glasses or contacts, $60 if done together.
Simple Contacts, as their name would imply, is an online service where you can renew your prescription for contact lenses. They do not offer tests for renewing your glasses prescription.
Their online contact lens test was designed by doctors, and the results are reviewed and approved by licensed doctors in your state.
- Age: 18 or older
- Health: You must not have any health issues.
- Prescription: Your prescription must be stable.
- Last Exam: You last comprehensive eye exam must have been done within the past 4 years.
- Location: Currently, Opternative is only available in 37 states.
$20 for a contact lens test.
The cost of Simple Contacts is very low compared to Opternative because they also sell contact lenses on their website where they make up the cost. The price for the contact lenses Simple Contacts sells on their website are highly inflated. I strongly recommend that if you get your prescription from there, you head over to Cotnacts Advice to find where you can buy your brand at the lowest price.
1800Contacts.com offers a contact lens prescription vision exam on their website. They use Opternative’s test, but at a lower price.
Normally, a contact lens prescription from Opternative costs $50. However, when you get it done through 1800contacts.com, it only costs $20. Why is this?
It’s the same reason why an online contact lens exam at Simple Contacts only costs $20. Because 1800contacts.com sells contact lenses at inflated prices in order to make up for the cost of the cheap online vision test.
In fact, 1800contacts.com has some of the most expensive contact lenses on the internet. Getting your online contact lens exam at 1800contacts.com is fine, but when it comes to your contact lenses, I strongly recommend finding the best price for your brand before you buy. At Contacts Advice, the website that offers the lowest price for every brand is listed so you can easily look up where to shop for your contacts to save the most amount of money.
Lens.com now also offer an online vision test on their website, however, it is not clear whether it is their own test, or if they use a service like Opternative.
Although they don’t clearly state on their website which test is being used, there are some cues which tell us that they most likely use Opternative.
Cue 1. Lens.com only sells contact lenses. No glasses. Yet they offer an online vision test for contact lenses and/or glasses. Since they only sell contact lenses, one would expect them to only issue online vision tests for contact lenses, like Simple Contacts, if they were using their own test.
Cue 2. Their pricing structure is almost identical to Opternative’s pricing structure. At Opternative.com, the price is $50 for a contact lens or glasses prescription, and $60 for both. At lens.com it’s $40 for a contact lens or glasses prescription, and $60 for both.
Cue 3. This one pretty much gives it away. There is a picture on this page: https://www.lens.com/vision-test/ of a girl taking the online vision test. In the picture, you see 3 circles and an X. These are same circles and Xs used in the Opternative test as seen in this video.
Online eye vision tests are not to be feared. They are a very cost-effective and time-effective way for healthy, busy, young people to renew their contact lens prescription so they can get on with their lives.