AOA Statement on Comprehensive Eye Examinations by Optometrists

Protecting consumers' eye and vision health and better educating Americans about the importance of comprehensive eye examinations by an eye doctor is a top public health priority for the American Optometric Association (AOA). Americans deserve high quality safe and effective vision and eye health care that is science and evidence based. The research shows that there is no substitute for comprehensive eye examinations by an optometrist.

Consumers are faced with significant health risks if they do not have access to proper diagnosis and treatment of potentially sight-threatening or even life-threatening diseases. As ophthalmic tele-medicine devices and apps, such as this one, enter the market, crucial components of an eye examination, as conducted by an optometrist in a clinical setting, become even more indispensable.  A refraction is NOT an eye examination. A patient reported list of symptoms and health history is NOT an eye examination. There are many health risk conditions a patient may have (ocular and systemic) that they may not be aware of and devices such as these do not help them reach diagnosis or early and best treatments.

The risk of this technology is not so much in what it does, as in what it doesn't do.  While this device may look simple, its intended use should place it in the category of a high risk device, as any delay in intervention can result in progressive damage to vision and more costly and extensive treatments later in the course of the disease. It is our concern that this device in not effective in assessing ocular health and, to the contrary, may even be considered unsafe if its use results in a delay in the diagnosis or treatment of potentially blinding disorders. The public should be aware that in addition to ocular diseases approximately 300 systemic diseases, including diabetes and pre-diabetes, have vision and eye health signs and symptoms that can be detected by a comprehensive dilated eye exam, and none have been determined to be detectable by this device.

The AOA, representing over 33,000 U.S. optometrists, serves our member doctors in meeting the eye care needs and protecting the visual welfare of the public and we take that mission very seriously. As eye care providers, optometrists spend their professional lives examining, diagnosing, treating and educating patients about ocular health and most of what consumers know about their own ocular health comes from their eye care providers. Regular physical eye examination and consultation is essential to maximize one's ocular health. There is no short cut around it or substitute for it.

July 28, 2015