All eye examinations are not alike. Let me repeat that. All eye examinations are not alike. Yes, all optometrists graduated from an accredited optometry school with the degree of doctor of optometry but there are many different pathways for optometrists to choose within the profession. Like any health care profession, there are specialists and generalists. There are those optometric professionals that choose to keep up with the most current technology and are given the opportunity to practice using the newest technology and there are those very capable doctors of optometry that unfortunately do not have the technology available to them, sometimes through no choice of their own. This in itself is a shame as it is the patient that loses out.
Here are a few reasons why.
Most patients are unaware of what constitutes state-of-the-art care as they have been seeing who they believe is their very capable optometrist for many years. In his or her hands, they feel safe. But if that doctor does not have the most current technology available, the patient may be receiving less than the standard of care, as early diagnosis of certain disease states may not be able to be ascertained in that office.
In addition, some for-profit companies are now starting to promote on-line eye exams. Really? Can a person actually receive comprehensive eye exam and compassionate eye care through a computer? I don’t believe that to be true. It may be possible for a person to receive a somewhat accurate eyeglass prescription (I will expand on this later) via the internet but the problem is that most people are unaware that an eye exam should include an eye health assessment. Through the eyes, a doctor can diagnose or see the early signs of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, tumors and so much more. Simply getting a prescription for glasses is not an eye examination. And who is going to answer your questions, Alexa or Siri?
As stated before, patients may receive a somewhat accurate prescription online. Many independent studies have been done to check the accuracy of eyeglasses manufactured by online vendors. The majority of these studies came to the same conclusions. That is that more than 50% of the eyeglasses made online are made incorrectly. It is also true that consumers may not be receiving what they think they are paying for from these venders. Like any consumer product, there are quality products and there are cheap imitations. I suppose that means that there is something for everyone, including for those that cannot afford the Mercedes or the Cadillac. And that is OK. In my mind, what is not OK is when the consumer is receiving a pair of glasses that provides them less than optimal vision and unbeknownst to the consumer, is also giving them headaches or eyestrain. I say, “Buyer beware”. And by the way, you will not get same day glasses or glasses in an hour from an online vendor.
There are certain things in life that I hold true. First, I want to choose a heart surgeon who is top in their field, as I want the best. Second, I want to know that the person who is stuffing my parachute has done it hundreds of times before, as I want to live after the thrill is over. Lastly, I want my eye doctor to be caring and compassionate while using the most sophisticated technology to examine my eyes.
There are many choices when it comes to eye care providers. Choose yours carefully. Interview the office if possible. Research Google and Yelp reviews and ask your friends. Choose wisely. Your health, vision and comfort depend on it.
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum, Optometrist