It’s safe to say that there’s an app for just about everything out there. Looking for some entertainment? Something to help track your expenses? A guide to help you procrastinate less? No worry, the app store has got you covered on all fronts… including eye health it seems.
Apps to help track and monitor your vision are appearing all over the app store. Depending on what app you chose, they can range from being free to costing a few dollars. Three dollars to keep your eyes healthy may seem like a great deal compared to paying for a trip to the eye doctors, but can these apps be trusted?
The obvious answer may seem like no, apps cannot replace a doctor’s advice and expertise. Of course they can’t! But they may be more useful than you’d think.
Online Tests vs. Apps
Online health tests and apps are all over the place. We’ve become a culture that is obsessed with self-diagnosis. Forget that a doctor went to medical school for seven years, if your app or online test tells you have a rare form of polio, it’s probably true.
These sometimes ridiculous online tests and apps are being put on trial today. Can they truly be trusted to tell us about our personal eye health? Before we answer this question let’s take a look at how online tests are different from apps.
These eye health apps (which can be found in the app store of your smartphone or tablet) offer a certain level of accuracy when it comes to diagnosing you. They aren’t thinking human beings. They’re automated programs that can only be tailored to your needs depending on the information you enter into the app.
Apps can also help you keep track the progress of an existing vision condition, set reminders to see the eye doctors, and act as guides to living an eye healthy life.
Online tests work a little differently and aren’t as versatile. Online eye tests are exclusively used to diagnose a person. Often you’ll perform a virtual eye test similar to tests you’d do at the doctor such as looking at various images and then answering questions about them.
Like apps that test your eyesight, online tests are automated to produce a certain response based on certain criteria. When you fill out an online test, you aren’t being treated like an individual; you’re reduced to a bunch of statistics. Stats don’t lie, but they certainly can’t diagnose a person.
Apps are used mainly for tracking eye health and maybe administering a few eye tests, while online tests are often used for self-diagnosis.
Can They Be Trusted?
That being said, the answer seems pretty clear. No, of course these apps and online tests can’t be trusted. They don’t know anything about you. They can’t even graze the surface with their automated tests.
This is especially true for online tests. If you’re going online to take an eye health test, it had better be because you want to ask the doctor questions when you see them at your appointment tomorrow. Other than that, there’s no other need to take these online tests.
The same can be said about apps that test your eye health. You won’t be getting any concrete information from the app. You’ll only end up scaring yourself into thinking you’re having a stroke, when actually it may just be experiencing transient smartphone blindness.
That being said, there is a certain merit to apps that offer eye health trackers. Apps are great tools for tracking finances, workouts, eating habits, and of course eye health.
Do you feel that your vision is more blurred than normal? An app can help test your eyes to see if it’s all in your head or if there is actually something wrong with your vision. Apps like this are a great stepping stone towards getting the professional help you need from an eye doctor.
Several apps also exist to help those with low vision. These apps can make screens brighter and easier to see, they can enlarge texts to make reading easier, and they can even read any text aloud to make sure you aren’t misreading anything.
The verdict: online tests and apps are definitely not to be trusted over a doctor’s advice. But apps can definitely help anyone track their health and track their symptoms. That way when you go to the eye doctor, you won’t forget those symptoms since their neatly placed in one app.
Eye Health Apps
Our smartphones and tablets are incredibly versatile tools. To deny our eye health the benefits of these tools would be a shame. For that reason we’ve put together a list of some of the best eye health apps, what they do, and how much they cost.
EyeXam (Free on iTunes App Store)
EyeXam is a great app for testing your eyes. It comes packed with information about eye health and even includes a feature to locate the eye doctor nearest to you. You can also read Yelp reviews for the doctors found. The app also helps you keep and log eye doctor appointments, so you won’t forget!
But if you can’t wait for your appointment, the app features real time messages that you can send to any doctor for more information about their office, or any questions you may have about your health.
Eye Handbook (Free on iTunes App Store and Google Play)
Eye Handbook is your one stop shop for everything eye health. This app comes equipped with eye health definitions, information, and even allows you to connect to doctors all around the world. You can upload images to the app to accompany your eye care questions.
You can download videos and lectures from the app and directly to your smartphone so that you can enjoy them if you’re offline.
Eye Care Excellence (Free on iTunes App Store and Google Play)
Similar to Eye Handbook, Eye Care Excellence takes care of scheduling appointments and creating easy access to your eye doctor. The app also comes with a glossary of vision terms and their definitions.
However, unlike Eye Handbook that allows you to post immediate questions to the app, Eye Care Excellence requires you to actually call your doctor for information. While Eye Handbook has more features, Eye Care Excellence is much more straight forward with a simpler interface.
All in all, online tests and app tests for eyes should not be the go-to source. But, other apps that help you find an eye doctor and to communicate with them are useful in maintain your eye health. Life can get hectic, but with these apps keeping your eye health on track, you’ll never have to worry about missing an appointment.