National Consumers League

NCL: Annual in-office eye exams help diagnose potential problems

May 4, 2020

Contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) has long recommended an annual, in-person eye exam as part of consumers’ annual health and wellness routines. An eye examination with an eye doctor ensures not only correct eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions, but also the opportunity for important preventive care as the eyes are a window into our overall health. An eye doctor, whether a primary eye care doctor of optometry or an ophthalmologist, can diagnose potentially hundreds of conditions during an exam, including diabetes, cancer, and macular degeneration. Through an eye exam, these doctors can catch an illness or disease early and treat it right away, making this care a critical part of our preventive care toolbox.

But now with COVID-19 keeping many of us at home, companies claiming to offer at-home vision tests are ramping up their marketing, despite the fact that there is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration- (FDA) approved at-home device that people can use to self-conduct a vision assessment, let alone a full eye examination. These devices have not been proven to even provide an accurate vision prescription. Consumers need to be wary of products that mistakenly claim that their at-home devices can provide an eye exam or a vision prescription and should instead consult their eye doctors who are available to help provide safe solutions.    

NCL applauds state attorneys general for taking action and the media for publishing articles about the dubious effectiveness and potential dangers that at-home vision tests or devices present. It’s been important to tell consumers to be aware of false marketing promises.

As states begin to reopen health care access, eye doctors across the country are beginning to safely provide routine eye health examinations once again. Patients looking to schedule their annual eye examinations or update their prescriptions should contact their eye doctors, who are employing protocols to protect everyone’s health during this public health emergency.  

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing out the best in many companies across our country, there are those few who are taking this opportunity to mislead and misinform the public. NCL wants to remind consumers to be aware and understand that there's no substitute for an annual, in-person comprehensive eye exam or for the doctor-patient relationship that's at the heart of healthy outcomes, especially when it concerns our precious eye health and vision. When it comes to your eyes, you don’t fool around!

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.