People who grew up in the age of the internet naturally gravitate toward products and services that provide value, solve problems and simplify life. So it’s no surprise that
eye health apps and websites that make it easy to order contacts and glasses or take an eye exam are popular today.Many of these tools offer busy people a distinct advantage – convenience – along with being helpful and fun, too. On the other hand, some apps and websites come with limitations and may pose potential risks.In the following podcast and story, we asked Key-Whitman Eye Center’s President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., to weigh in on the value of popular digital eye health tools and when it’s best to see an eye doctor.
Click here to listen to the “Eye Health Insights: Keeping Pace with Advancements in Eye Health Technology” podcast now.
When Is It OK To Skip A Visit To The Eye Doctor And Use Digital Eye Health Tools Instead?
To Renew A Recent Contact Lens Prescription.
One convenient service worth considering is ordering FDA-approved contact lenses from a reputable website. An eye doctor still signs off on the prescription, and you may be able to save a little money compared to buying lenses from some optometrists.
Dr. Whitman does recommend comparing prices though. As he explains, “Eye doctors know they are competing with contact lens websites, so their prices can be very competitive. Plus, it’s often faster to call your eye doctor’s office to renew a prescription anyway. Our patients can also order contacts through the online Optical Center on our website.”
To Learn About Or Help Manage Vision Problems.
There are apps available that help people manage eye diseases and conditions such as dry eye symptoms and diabetic eye disease. Dr. Whitman encourages people to “look for apps that list steps you should take regularly, like foods you should eat or avoid, how often you should get an eye exam and what you should do if X, Y or Z changes occur to your vision.
“There are also apps like GlassesOff that help people exercise their eyes to address near vision loss. Researchers at the University of California, Berkley found the perceptual training program used in GlassesOff resulted in significant improvements in both contrast sensitivity and letter recognition in study subjects.”
When Is It Best To See An Eye Doctor And Avoid Eye Health Apps And Websites?
Whenever Any Diagnostic Testing Is Involved.
Online eye exam websites may sound convenient, and they may even allow you to order prescription eyeglasses. However, they can come up short compared to eye exams at your eye doctor’s office.
As Dr. Whitman explains, “At this point, there is no website or app that can provide a thorough eye examination. You may be able to get a prescription for glasses, but online tests don’t screen for eye diseases and conditions like an eye doctor does.”
For example, Dr. Whitman and his team use Optos technology to take an image of the back of the eye and screen for eye abnormalities. They also offer non-dilated eye exams. So, “puff tests” used in glaucoma screenings are a thing of the past.
“During the exam, eye doctors do more than fill a prescription. They look for issues like glaucoma, retinal tears, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and astigmatism, conditions digital websites and apps often miss or don’t screen for, period. Left undiagnosed, some of these conditions (many of which don’t have symptoms) could increase a patient’s risk for vision loss,” says Dr. Whitman.
For patients younger than 40 who don’t suffer from health conditions that cause eye problems (i.e., diabetes and autoimmune diseases) or have risk factors for certain eye diseases (i.e., a family history of glaucoma), Dr. Whitman recommends undergoing an eye exam every two years.
“You should also schedule an eye appointment immediately if you notice any changes to your vision,” Dr. Whitman says.
To Ensure Eyeglasses Fit Correctly And Look Good On Your Face.
Those designer eyeglasses and sunglasses may look great when you see them on T.V. or online, but how do you know they will look good on you unless you try them on? There’s a reason opticians undergo training to fit eyeglasses properly.
Dr. Whitman and optician Renee Macdonald provide tips on how to choose the perfect sunglasses for your face in this recent post.
If You Have A Vision Plan Or Health Insurance That Covers Eye Conditions.
Many eye health apps and websites don’t take insurance, which means more out of pocket expenses for the patient. On the other hand, most ophthalmology practices, like Key-Whitman, do take insurance.
As Dr. Whitman explains, “If you have eye care insurance or a vision plan, or you have an eye condition where your medical insurance takes over, our insurance specialists can work with your provider to ensure you take advantage of the coverage available to you.”
Our Convenient Services Align With Busy Lifestyles
We know you want to get in and out of the doctor’s office as quickly as possible, so we offer a variety of convenient services to save you time. These services include:
- Six offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex (Dallas, North Dallas, North Arlington, South Arlington, Mesquite and Plano). Choose the office nearest you.
- Digital patient tracking. We know where patients are located during their entire visit, which reduces waiting times.
- Online Optical Center. Re-order your contact lenses with ease.
- Vast selection of competitively priced eyeglass and sunglass frames. We carry frames to meet most any budget – from basic to high end, designer styles.
- Valet parking at Dallas. Save more time when we park your car for you.
Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., is a nationally renowned eye surgeon, board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. President and Chief Surgeon of Key-Whitman Eye Centers in Dallas since 1996, Dr. Whitman is a frequent participant in clinical trials and is known as a respected researcher, innovator and leader in LASIK eye surgery and for his extensive experience implanting high-technology lenses. He is frequently called upon to serve on the boards of local and national medical associations and organizations. Dr. Whitman and his wife reside in Dallas and enjoy fitness, playing tennis and traveling.
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