Online Eye Exams: Do You Need an Existing Prescription?


As digital innovation continues to reshape healthcare, one question that often arises is whether you can receive an online eye exam without an existing prescription. The answer is no. A current prescription is required to ensure the accuracy and safety of the exam process, especially if you’re looking to renew or update your current prescription.

Understanding Online Eye Exams

Online eye exams are designed to evaluate your vision and eye health using advanced technology, right from your home. These exams are convenient but require a baseline understanding of your eye health, often provided by a current prescription.

It’s crucial to see an eye care professional in-person for a comprehensive eye health assessment when you’re attempting to obtain your first prescription.

How to Prepare for Your Online Eye Exam

You’ll need a computer or smartphone with a camera and a reliable internet connection to participate in an online eye exam. Choose a quiet, well-lit space to help ensure the exam’s accuracy.

The Process of an Online Eye Exam

The exam consists of interactive tests that assess your vision, such as reading from vision charts and responding to visual prompts. These tests determine whether your current prescription remains accurate or needs adjustments.

Receiving Your Prescription

After you complete the exam, your results will be reviewed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. If your current prescription is confirmed or minor adjustments are made, you’ll typically receive an updated prescription electronically within 24 hours.

Limitations and Considerations

Online eye exams are not equipped to diagnose new eye health issues. The technology is best used for routine checks and minor updates to existing prescriptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Q: Can anyone take an online eye exam?

A: Online exams are best for those with an existing prescription. First-time prescriptions should be obtained in person.

2. Q: How accurate are online eye exams?

A: They are effective for confirming or slightly adjusting existing prescriptions but not for first-time prescriptions or diagnosing eye conditions.

3. Q: How often should I take an online eye exam?

A: It’s recommended to have your eyes checked annually, though online exams should complement, not replace, regular in-person eye exams.


While online eye exams offer a convenient option for verifying and updating your prescription, they require a current prescription to ensure the safety and accuracy of the process. They serve as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, comprehensive in-person eye care.

If you have a current prescription and want to renew or update it conveniently, an online eye exam might be right for you. Ensure you also schedule regular in-person exams to maintain optimal eye health.