Does anyone actually like eye exams? Probably not, especially if your vision hasn’t changed but the dumb site you’re trying to order glasses or contact lenses from won’t let you buy them because your prescription expired last week. For those people, Warby Parker announced today that it’s revamped its telehealth prescription renewal app to be faster and easier.
The app, which has been renamed Virtual Vision Test by Warby Parker, lets eligible users renew glasses or contact lens prescriptions in 10 minutes from an iPhone 6s or later. The company says the test doesn’t require a computer, credit card, or ruler—which are sometimes used when ordering glasses online to determine things like pupillary distance (PD). The only requirement is you have to be between 18-65 years old, have no eye health concerns, and that you see well with your current single-vision distance prescription. (The app doesn’t work for bifocal or progressive lenses.)
According to Warby Parker, the app guides users through a short eligibility quiz. From there, it uses a blend of Apple’s Vision Framework tech and a proprietary algorithm to measure how far you are from the phone. Because of that, however, Android users are out of luck.
As for the test itself, it’s similar to the ones where you read various-sized letters from a chart in an ophthalmologist’s office. The company notes that while you don’t need extra equipment, you do need to wear your current glasses or contacts, have a copy of your current prescription, and have about 10 feet of space in a quiet, well-lit area.
Usually, at-home prescription tech is a bit sus and doesn’t work quite as well for those of us with strong prescriptions or severe astigmatism. Gizmodo reviewed a similar product, the EyeQue Vision Check, and found it to be less accurate than a prescription from the doctor. However, this app’s claims seem less sketch, because it’s not giving you a new prescription or claiming to evaluate your eye health. It’s merely to check if your current prescription is still effective. Warby Parker also says each result is reviewed by an eye doctor within two days. If all goes well, you’ll get a renewed prescription. If not, you’ll be recommended to schedule a full eye exam. The good news is the renewal only costs $15, and you don’t have to pay if you’re recommended to get an in-person exam.
As with all health tech, it’s important to remember that convenient tools like this are absolutely not meant to replace a visit to a health professional. (Trust me, you do not want to go 12 years without seeing your eye doctor.) However, considering the past year, these sorts of telehealth tools can be useful in certain situations. In this case, this app might be helpful for people in rural areas who can’t easily get to a doctor, or for those who don’t yet feel comfortable with in-person appointments just yet.