North Carolina Optometric Society Warns Patients to Be Cautious of “At-Home Eye Exam” or “Vision Test” Product Claims

Raleigh, NC – May 12, 2020 — Some companies are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and asserting that their devices make it easy to conduct an eye exam at home. The truth of the matter is, there are a number of components that are part of an in-person, comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry and there is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, at-home device or app that people can use to self-conduct all of the elements of a proper eye examination. The North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS), together with the American Optometric Association (AOA), warns that it is more important than ever to be aware of products that give the mistaken impression that their devices can substitute for a comprehensive eye examination or that they can shortcut getting a contact lens or eyeglasses prescription.

“When patients rely on an app for an eyeglass or contact lens prescription, they can receive inaccurate or misleading information and potentially delay essential sight saving treatment. In addition, changes in refractive status can be an underlying symptom of a number of eye or systemic conditions, which can only be detected through an in-person, comprehensive eye exam,” says NCOS President Scott Athans, O.D. “We want to ensure that patients have access to medically-recognized eye health care and to protect them from companies, platforms or services that may put their health at risk.”

The NCOS is joining with the AOA, patient advocacy organizations, state attorneys general and the media in warning the public about the lack of effectiveness and potential dangers of these devices and their marketing promises. With the proliferation of these online apps, optometry and other health care providers have continued to raise concerns about their safety and efficacy—including the potential for inaccurate prescriptions, missed diagnoses of serious and general health conditions, and the creation of a prescription with little input from an eye doctor.

“Eye exams with doctors of optometry, America’s primary eye health and vision care providers, are essential health care that provide more than just a prescription but are also a critical component of patient’s preventive health regimen. During this time, patients should work with their doctors to make use of health technologies that enhance care, and not be misled by questionable marketing claims that undermine it," AOA President Barbara L. Horn, O.D., says. "Patients need to be wary of any company that claims its device can replace the care that a doctor provides.”

North Carolina has begun reopening health care access and eye doctors across the state are starting to safely provide comprehensive 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 in-person and telehealth protocols to provide necessary refills and other eye health and vision care with one goal in mind – to protect everyone’s health and safety.  

For more information on eye health and vision, or to find a local NCOS doctor of optometry, visit


Media Contact
Paul Kranze, NCOS Associate Executive Director 
(919) 977-6964 | [email protected]