Evidence Based

What is Tele-Optometry?

Tele-optometry appointments are virtual eye exams. They are run through live video conferencing technology, rather than in-person. 

Patients will typically schedule an appointment online with their eye doctor. Then they will attend a virtual eye exam appointment during the chosen time. You can use your smartphone, tablet, or computer to access the live video conference. 

In a study from 2014, about 97 percent of tele-optometric patients said a remote eye exam addressed their concerns. 

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DigitalOptometrics: How Telehealth Eye Exams Work

DigitalOptometrics has recently introduced a new technology that enables eye doctors to perform comprehensive eye exams remotely via real-time video conferencing. 

A digital eye exam is similar to an in-office test but with added convenience. The main disadvantage of tele-optometry is that the eye exams are less detailed than in-office exams. 

A tele-optometry eye exam typically consists of three steps, including:

1. Collect Patient Information

As with any doctor’s appointment, your optometrist will ask a series of questions before beginning the eye exam. These questions may include those related to your insurance, medical history, allergies, and medications. 

They will also ask if you have a history with certain eye diseases and conditions, such as dry eye syndrome, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

2. Perform Eye Exam 

After the patient’s information is updated, the licensed optometrist will move onto the pre-screening exam. It is essential to have proper working Internet access to ensure the video is of high quality.  

The pre-screening portion of a remote eye exam may include the following tests:

  • Autorefraction. This test uses an autorefractor-keratometer to get an estimate of your eyeglass prescription.
  • Lensometry. This test verifies the prescription in your current eyeglasses.
  • Retinal imaging. This imaging test takes a detailed picture of the back of your eye with a fundus camera. It takes an image of your retina. 
  • Non-contact tonometry. This test takes your eye pressure as part of a glaucoma screening. 

After these pre-screening tests are complete, you will move onto the subjective refraction test. During an in-office eye exam, your doctor uses a combination of different lenses to determine the best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) of your eyes. They switch between blurry and clear lenses and use your responses to determine your eyeglass prescription. 

During a tele-optometry subject refraction test, your optometrist will appear on-screen using high-definition video conferencing technology. They will perform the test in real-time using a digital optical system. While remote eye exams are effective in determining your prescription, they may be less accurate than in-person exams. 

3. Review Exam Results & New Prescription

After the pre-screening tests and eye exam, your eye doctor will discuss your eye health status and any concerns. If your prescription changes, they will recommend new contact lenses and eyeglass frames. Then you will order the new lenses directly through your eye care provider. 

Eye Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a respiratory illness that produces mild to severe symptoms. Those most at risk of contracting the disease are people with underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, and breathing difficulties. 

Telemedicine has become a popular option during the COVID-19 pandemic because patients do not have to leave their homes. They also don’t have to worry about spreading or contracting the disease in public places. 

Tele-optometry services have helped slow the spread of COVID-19, while also allowing patients to get their new eyeglass and contact lens prescription virtually. 

Author: Alyssa Hill | UPDATED August 6, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON August 1, 2020
Resources

“Digitaloptometrics I Tele-Optometry Exams.” Digital Optometrics, 7 Nov. 2019, www.digitaloptometrics.com/.

Nagra, Manbir, et al. “Could Telehealth Help Eye Care Practitioners Adapt Contact Lens Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic?” Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, vol. 43, no. 3, 2020, pp. 204–207., doi:10.1016/j.clae.2020.04.002.

  1. Jaymeni, et al. “Patient experience of tele-optometry in the comprehensive eye examination; a pilot study.” ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract, June 2020.

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