Disclaimer: We evaluate the companies on our list independently, but we may receive a referral fee on the services featured on this page. Review our editorial process and full disclaimer here for more information.

Compared to other healthcare fields, optometry has had a slow transition into the telehealth space. This is largely due to the specialized equipment and procedures required to complete a comprehensive eye exam, and the challenges of replicating them remotely.

However, some services, including vision screenings and prescription renewal exams, are coming  online, both as a way to make eyecare more convenient, and protect patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help patients decide if an online eye exam is right for them, we reviewed several eye care services that are currently available online. These are our picks for the best online eye exams.

The Best Online Eye Exams for 2020

1-800-Contacts – Best Overall

1-800-Contacts makes re-ordering contact lenses fast and efficient with their Express Exam, which lets users take a simple online vision test to confirm that their prescription is still valid.

Lensabi – Best for Eyeglass Prescriptions

Customers with contact lenses or prescription glasses can take advantage of Lensabi’s brief, ophthalmologist-reviewed online eye exam to confirm that their prescriptions are still valid.

Lens.com – Best Customer Satisfaction Guarantee

In addition to allowing users to confirm that their contact lens prescriptions are still valid, Lens.com offers a customer satisfaction guarantee on all products ordered through their website.

Essilor – Best Vision Screening

Using computer and smartphone technology, Essilor provides a free, fast online vision screening to test visual acuity, light sensitivity, color vision, and other key aspects of sight.

Zeiss Vision Care – Runner-up: Best Vision Screening

Zeiss is another platform that offers basic vision screenings for free via their website, to help patients identify areas of concern that need to be addressed with an eye doctor.

How We Chose the Best Online Eye Exams

In curating our list of the best online eye exams, we looked for providers that are trustworthy, convenient, and place patient safety first.

Services available

There are two main types of online eye care available – basic vision screenings, to help them determine if a comprehensive eye exam is needed, and eye exams for checking glasses or contact lens prescriptions. In order to make recommendations for all types of patients, we included both types of services on our list.

Convenience

One of the key selling points of an online eye exam is convenience. We looked for services that require only minimal set-up, as well as tools that most people have handy, including a computer or smartphone with a microphone. We also prioritized services that have a quick turnaround time for results, so users can proactively take the next steps.

Ophthalmologist review

For online eye exams for prescription renewals, it’s key that a board-certified ophthalmologist reviews the results to confirm that you have the right prescription for your contact lenses or glasses. All eye exam services on our list include an ophthalmologist review as standard practice.

The Best Online Eye Exams of 2020

1-800-Contacts

1-800-Contacts

Launched in 1995, 1-800-Contacts was an e-commerce pioneer, making it faster and easier than ever for customers to purchase their contact lenses. They have recently made the process even more convenient by offering their Express Exam, which lets customers renew their prescription online without having to visit their eye doctor.

The Express Exam process is simple. Customers answer basic questions about their age, location, and eye health history to confirm their eligibility for the online exam. Eligible customers upload pictures of their eyes so the doctor can check for redness or irritation, followed by a simple vision test to check if the patient can see clearly in their current contacts. Customers must have a smartphone or computer with a camera and microphone to complete the vision test.

A board-certified ophthalmologist will review the results within 24 hours, and determine if the prescription is valid, or if adjustments are necessary.

PriceServices AvailableMore Features
FreePrescription renewal eye exam-HIPAA-compliant
-Mobile app
-24/7/365 access
-More features at 1-800-Contacts

Pros & Cons of 1-800-Contacts Online Eye Exam

Pros:

  • The most significant pro of 1-800-Contact online eye exam is that it is free. Customers can have their prescription verified, and are under no obligation to purchase their contacts through 1-800-Contacts. However, if they do want to order contacts, 1-800-Contacts has a huge selection that is priced competitively.
  • 1-800-Contacts online eye exam can also help in a pinch when customers are in need of a contact lens refill in a hurry. Customers will get their renewal confirmation from a board-certified ophthalmologist within 24 hours. There is no waiting to schedule an appointment to see an eye doctor in person.
  • If customers are looking for a different brand of contacts than what they are currently using, 1-800-Contacts’ ophthalmologists can also make recommendations for other brands that customers can use.

Cons:

  • Different states have different rules regarding online eye exams, so 1-800-Contacts online eye exam may not be available to customers nationwide. Currently, customers in the following states are NOT eligible to use this service: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, and New Jersey.
  • 1-800-Contacts’ online eye exam is available only for customers with a contact lens prescription. They do not do exams for individuals with prescription eyeglasses.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers appreciate 1-800-Contacts Express Exam for saving them both time and money. “The online exam was very easy to do, and it saved me $60!” writes one user. “It was a quick and easy process, and my contacts were shipped and delivered to my house in three days.”

Lensabi

Lensabi

Lensabi advertises itself as a one-stop for all things optical, including contact lenses, eyeglass frames, and eyeglass lenses. As an added convenience, customers can also complete an online vision test to renew their prescription from any location.

Lensabi’s online vision test takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. This includes the time it takes to answer basic questions to confirm that you are eligible for an online vision test, and enter information about your current prescription. Once your eligibility is confirmed, you will complete the vision test using a computer and smartphone. The exam will assess whether your current contact lens or eyeglass prescription is still valid.

All exam results are reviewed by a board-certified ophthalmologist to ensure that they are accurate, and that the prescription should be renewed. Within 24 hours, users will receive their prescription, or instructions for further assessment.

PriceServices AvailableMore Features
FreePrescription renewal eye exam-Contact and glasses lenses available
-Results within 24 hours
-Free shipping
-More features at Lensabi

Pros & Cons of Lensabi Online Eye Exam

Pros:

  • A key pro of Lensabi’s online eye exam is that customers can use it to renew or check a prescription for eyeglasses as well as contact lenses. Lensabi can replace the lenses in a customer’s glasses if they are scratched or damaged. Lensabi also has a large variety of contact lenses.
  • Another perk of Lensabi’s online eye exam is that it is free. Customers can have their prescription verified, and are under no obligation to purchase their contacts or glasses through Lensabi.
  • Lensabi gets customers their eye exam results quickly, with a 24-hour turnaround time. All exam results are reviewed by a board-certified ophthalmologist.
  • Customers who decide to order their contact lenses or glasses through Lensabi get to take advantage of free shipping anywhere in the U.S.

Cons:

  • Like other online eye exams, Lensabi’s availability is governed by individual state laws for telehealth services, so depending on where a customer lives, they may not be able to use this service.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers who have turned to Lensabi when a visit to an in-person eye doctor isn’t feasible have been pleased with the service. “When I needed an update on my prescriptions, I researched online and found Lensabi,” writes one customer. “They are a great company, and I will definitely use them again.”

Lens.com

Lens.com

Lens.com is another contact lens ordering service that facilitates the process by letting users complete their prescription renewal with an online eye exam.

To verify that their contact lens prescription is still accurate with a Lens.com online eye exam, customers must first create an account and answer initial screening questions to confirm their eligibility for an online exam. They will also enter their current prescription information.

After following the set-up instructions, customers will complete a series of vision tests administered through their computer. Answers are recorded via smartphone, which acts as a remote control for the test.

A board-certified ophthalmologist reviews users’ test results, medical histories, and prescriptions before issuing a prescription renewal, or making a recommendation for further assessment. Once a valid prescription is issued, customers can purchase their new contact lenses through Lens.com, or an eye care retailer of their choice.

PriceServices AvailableMore Features
FreePrescription renewal eye exam-HIPAA-compliant
-Available for adults 22-55
-Money-back guarantee
-More features at Lens.com

Pros & Cons of Lens.com Online Eye Exam

Pros:

  • Lens.com’s online eye exam is free, making it an affordable and fast option for getting a contact lens prescription renewed. For customers who choose to purchase their contacts through Lens.com, this service has a large variety of brands, available at competitive prices.
  • Generally speaking, there are age limits for who is eligible for online eye exams. For many sites, the maximum age is 50, but Lens.com will conduct online eye exams for individuals up to age 55.
  • Lens.com’s customer service is another benefit of using this platform. They offer a money-back guarantee, and easy, hassle-free returns if there are any problems with an order.

Cons:

  • Because of individual state restrictions on telehealth services like online eye exams, not all customers can renew their prescription with an online eye exam through Lens.com. Currently, residents who live in the following states are NOT eligible for online eye exams with Lens.com: Alaska, District of Columbia (DC), Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
  • Lens.com’s online eye exam is available only for customers with a contact lens prescription. They do not do exams for individuals with prescription eyeglasses.

What Customers Are Saying

Lens.com has built a loyal customer following by providing fast, reliable service. “Using Lens.com was easy and fast,” writes one user. “There was no hassle for getting my script approved, which I thought would take much longer. I will absolutely keep ordering from this site.”

Essilor

Essilor

Many people remember having their vision tested by a school nurse when they were elementary students. While not a comprehensive eye exam, these tests helped identify possible vision problems that needed further assessment and remediation.

Thanks to computer and smartphone technology, those types of vision assessments are now available to everyone, from the comfort of their own home. Essilor, a leading international ophthalmic optics company, is one such provider of these online vision tests.

With Essilor, the process is fast and simple. Using only a computer, patients complete basic tests to assess different aspects of their vision, including  visual acuity, astigmatism, light sensitivity, near vision, color vision, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Based on their answers, users will receive results and recommendations for further actions. While not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam, this vision test can help patients identify problem areas to discuss with their eye doctor.

PriceServices AvailableMore Features
FreeVision test-Mobile app
-Glossary of ophthalmology terms
-Multiple assessments
-More features at Essilor

Pros & Cons of Essilor Online Eye Exam

Pros:

  • The key benefit of Essilor’s online vision test is that it is a quick, convenient way to get a general assessment of your vision. The screening takes about 10 minutes to complete, and users get instant feedback regarding their vision.
  • Part of what makes completing Essilor’s online vision screening so easy is that customers can do it with just a computer. It does not require any special equipment. Customers simply need enough room to be able to stand one meter (or about 3 feet) from their computer screen.
  • Essilor’s online vision screening can detect potential problems in a variety of areas, including visual acuity, astigmatism, light sensitivity, near vision, color vision, and age-related macular degeneration
  • Because an Essilor online vision screening does not involve a board-certified optometrist or ophthalmologist, there are no geographic limitations on who can use this service.

Cons:

  • The feedback customer’s get from Essilor’s online vision screening is somewhat limited, mainly as a result of the simplicity of the screening. Essilor tells customers that their eyesight in both eyes seems good, that there may be a problem in one eye, or that there may be a problem in both eyes.

Zeiss Vision Care

Zeiss Vision Care

Zeiss, an international optics and optoelectronic company, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of eyeglass lenses. As such, they offer patients a range of tools to help maintain and improve their vision, including a free online vision test.

Offered through a partnership with Eye Health America, Zeiss’s online vision screening is designed to test visual acuity, contrast vision, and color vision. It is meant to be used as a guide to help users identify any potential trouble areas with their vision, and determine if an in-person,  comprehensive eye exam is necessary.

After a few basic set-up steps, users will complete three quick tasks to assess the sharpness of their vision, their contrast sensitivity, and their perception of colors. Based on their answers, users will be notified if there are any areas of concern related to these three aspects of vision.

PriceServices AvailableMore Features
FreeVision test-HIPAA-compliant
-Eye doctor directory
-Educational resources
-More features at Zeiss Vision Care

Pros & Cons of Zeiss Vision Care Online Eye Exam

Pros:

  • Patients who want to get a quick, general assessment of their vision will find Zeiss’ online vision screening useful. It’s a fast, free tool, available to anyone with a computer, to evaluate whether there are problem areas that need immediate attention.
  • Zeiss Vision Care’s online vision screening is easy to set up. Customers just need a computer and a credit card-sized card to calibrate their monitor screen. No additional special equipment is required.
  • Part of what makes completing Essilor’s online vision screening so easy is that customers can do it with just a computer. It does not require any special equipment. Customers simply need enough room to be able to stand one meter (or about 3 feet) from their computer screen.
  • There are no geographic limitations on who can have an online vision screening through Zeiss. Because there is no diagnosis or prescribing involved, these types of services are not regulated by individual states.
  • Zeiss partners with Eye Health America to help connect patients with in-person eye doctors if follow-up care is needed.

Cons:

  • With Zeiss, users can screen for visual acuity, contrast vision, and color vision. While these are three key elements of vision, other online screening tools may offer screenings for additional vision-related issues.

What You Need to Know About Online Eye Exams

An online eye exam or vision screening is not a replacement for an in-person, comprehensive eye health exam. The frequency of in-person eye exams depends on a few factors, including age, overall health, medical history, and whether you wear corrective lenses or have other vision problems. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that adults have an in-person eye exam at least every five years.

Online eye exams can be convenient tools for individuals who need to renew a prescription, while vision screenings can help individuals preliminary identify issues. However, these types of services do not test all of the aspects of eye health, including eye muscles, glaucoma screenings, retinal exams, visual field, and more.

For patients using an online eye exam as a way to confirm a contact or eyeglass lens prescription, different services may limit eligibility based on age, medical history, and whether the individual has other vision problems.

Additionally, consumers may also run into state restrictions when it comes to getting an online eye exam. Regulations for online vision care have been a subject of ongoing debate for several years, resulting in a patchwork of access to these services.

Latest News

As with many areas of medicine and healthcare, much of the current news about online optometry and eye exams reflects how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting these services.

Sources