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2015_opternative-001The tricorder is still a little ways off, but today’s computers can significantly cut down on the time you spend visiting doctors. This week’s App of the Week eliminates the need to visit an eye doctor just to get your prescription updated. With Opternative, just grab your computer and smartphone, and about 25 minutes of free time, to update your prescription.

This isn’t just some Buzzfeed quiz either; users get results from board-certified ophthalmologists and the test has clinically proven to be as accurate as a traditional exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Opternative requirements

Based on my testing, the process is really simple. You create an account with info like when you had your last eye exam, a few medical details and your shoe size (to accurately measure distance during the exam). Opternative texts you a URL that you can open in your smartphone’s browser, which acts as a controller for the exam. Then, turn up the volume on your computer and Opternative walks you through all the steps needed to get an accurate prescription.

Over the course of the examination, you’re asked to determine which shape is different in a group of four or which square has blurry lines, among other tests, all while covering either your left or right eye.

What your phone looks like while taking the Opternative exam
What your phone looks like while taking the Opternative exam

A narrator tells you what to look for with each question, encouraging you to take breaks and giving you tips on how to get the best results. My favorite: “Avoid squinting. If you squint during the exam, you’ll be squinting in your new prescription.”

With each question, your smartphone also gives you tips on what you’re supposed to be doing, showing you which eye to cover and what you’re supposed to be doing during that particular test.

You can take the test for free right now, but you have to pay to get your prescription. It’s $40 for either a glasses or contacts prescription, or you can get both for $60.

The downside to Opternative is that you don’t get your results immediately. My prescription showed up about an hour after I finished my exam, but Opternative says results could take up to 24 hours to come back. Also, if you’ve never worn corrective lenses before, you can only get a prescription for glasses, not contacts. However, Opternative can contact your doctor to find out your last contacts prescription if you don’t happen to remember it.

Opternative isn’t a replacement for a traditional eye exam either. In fact, people with cataracts, glaucoma or hereditary eye disease may not be eligible for the test. And Opternative suggests everyone still gets an eye exam every two year. However, if you just want a new pair of frames or need a refill of your contact lenses, Opternative is a quick way to get your prescription updated without hitting up the doctor’s office.

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