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 worries, the app store has you covered on all fronts. In fact, it even includes eye health apps to help you take care of your vision.
Eye health apps that help track and monitor your vision are appearing all over the app store. Depending on what app you choose, 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 Vision Tests vs. Eye Health 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 that you have a rare form of polio, it’s probably true. Not.
We need to put these (sometimes ridiculous) online vision tests and apps on trial. Can we really trust them to tell us about our personal eye health? Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at how online vision tests are different from eye health apps.
You can find many eye health apps in the app store of your smartphone or tablet. They offer a certain level of helpfulness when it comes to treating an existing diagnosis, like myopia. However, they aren’t thinking human beings. They’re automated programs that can only be tailored to your needs depending on the information you enter.
Apps can also help you keep track the progress of an existing vision condition, set reminders to see the eye doctor, and act as guides to living an eye-healthy life.
Or, Vision Tests…
Online vision 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’s office, such as looking at various images and then answering questions about them.
Like apps that test your eyesight, online eye 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, and they certainly can’t diagnose a person.
Eye health apps are used mainly for tracking eye health, guiding at-home treatment and maybe administering a few eye tests. Online vision tests are often used for self-diagnosis and aren’t a valid replacement for seeing your eye doctor in person.
Can We Trust Them?
The answer seems pretty clear. Of course, these apps and online tests cannot 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 eye tests. If you’re going online to take an eye health test, it 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 them.
The same goes for apps that test your eye health. You won’t be getting any concrete information from them. You’ll only end up scaring yourself into thinking you’re having a stroke, when actually it may just be experiencing transient smartphone blindness.
However, there is certain merit to apps that offer eye health trackers. Apps are great tools for tracking finances, workouts, eating habits and of course eye health. If you take medication for an eye condition, reminder apps can help you remember to take them.
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.
Eye Health Apps to Consider
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, iOS only)
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 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 directly to your smartphone so that you can enjoy them even when you’re offline.
Do you work at a desk on the computer all day? You’ve likely felt the effects of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), like eye strain and dry eyes. What you need is an app to remind you to look away from the screen and take breaks. Eyecare 20 20 20 is a reminder app that you open when you sit down to work. Simply press “start”; the app will remind you every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Taking breaks from the screen every 10-20 minutes is incredibly beneficial to maintaining your eye health. We actually recommend taking an eye break every 10 minutes, but even every 20 will probably be a major improvement in your daily habit.
All in all, online vision tests and eye health apps should not be your go-to source. Instead of taking an online eye exam, book an appointment with your eye doctor to diagnose your symptoms and recommend treatment. Some apps are useful, like the ones that help you find an eye doctor and communicate with them. Life can get hectic, so consider using apps that help you keep your eye health on track. Then, you’ll never have to worry about missing an appointment again.