- Extremely accurate
- Tests can be done in a few minutes
- Track your vision over time
- Comprehensive website dashboard
- Allows you to order glasses online
- Smartphone app could be more comprehensive
- Requires an annual subscription
As we get older, our vision changes. After the age of 40, it’s perfectly normal to lose focusing ability due to the hardening of the lens inside the eye. Beyond 50, you may notice the need for more frequent changes in prescriptions for glasses. This is why it’s important to go for regular eye doctor exams. But there are other solutions.
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California-based EyeQue has recently launched VisionCheck. This is the third offering from the company. It’s first product was the Personal Vision Tracker, a low-cost home-based solution that tests spherical, cylindrical and axis figures. These are the same values your eye doctor uses to generate a prescription. It followed this up with Insight, a fast and easy home administered 20/20 vision test. The latest offering goes even further.
A home based eye-test? Sounds great. But are the results from VisionCheck really on par with those you get from an eye doctor? Read on for my full review.
How it works
Setup and using for the first time
Interpreting the results and accuracy
In the box VisionCheck comes with an optical smartphone attachment, a safety band, PDCheck pupillary distance tool and a quick start guide. To use you’ll need a smartphone running Android 4.x or iOS 9.3 and above. Most phones these days meet this requirement, and come with the pixel per inch density of 250 or greater needed for the device to operate properly.
The optical smartphone attachment feels quality made. There’s a silicon cup at one end against which you rest your eye when taking a test, and micro-suction tape at the other end for attaching to your smartphone. The top of the device houses three touch sensors that are used when navigating the eye test. On the side is a physical power button and a charging port next to it.
To refuel, simply slot the Micro USB cord into the charging port and a USB power source at the other end. It’s useful that a standard cable is used rather than a proprietary one. Those of us who tend to have lots of gadgets often use the same cables for multiple devices.
A full charge from zero takes about an hour and a half. After that, the battery will keep going for about 2 months with average use. This equates to around 3 hours of continuous use. A quick 15 minute top-up is enough to achieve a 25% charge.
The power-button doubles as an LED indicator light. A blinking Blue colour means the device is switched on. This will turn into a solid Blue when VisionCheck is paired to your phone. A blinking Red light means the battery is low, a solid Red light that it is charging and no light means the charging is complete (or that the device is off).
Now you might be wondering how VisionCheck is different from the company’s first offering, the Personal Vision Tracker. After all, they can both be used for a refraction error test and to order glasses online.
Well, there are several important benefits to using the newer product. These combine to make doing home eye-tests much easier than before.
First, the built-in motor means the refraction test is now automated rather than manual. This allows for faster, simpler test taking. Whats more, the controls are built into device itself, so you no longer need to use your smartphone to navigate the eye test. And finally, the company has made improvements to aspheric lenses to allow for increased visibility, greater accuracy and a faster test experience.
First let’s define what VisionCheck is and isn’t.
This is a refraction measurement device that uses your smartphone and an accompanying app to determine your EyeGlass Numbers from the comfort of your home. You can then use these to order actual glasses online from select retailers. Included in the package is a PDCheck pupillary distance tool.
Because this is user administered test it does not provide a medical prescription. This is why EyeQue came up with the term EyeGlass Numbers. Using the device at least once per month ensures you always have up-to-date results and a snapshot of how your vision is changing over time.
However, you’ll be mistaken if you think this spells an end to your eye doctor visits. Occasional comprehensive eye health exams are still needed. This is because they consist of a wide range of tests for glaucoma, cataracts and other conditions. You only get the refractive error with VisionCheck, and while this is important there are other tests required for a complete picture of your eye health.
Having said that, VisionCheck is registered with the FDA as a Class 1 medical device, with 510(k) exemption. It utilises the same diagnostic technology optometrists and ophthalmologists use.
Without going into too much detail, the principal behind VisionCheck is something called Inverse Shack Hartman. Shack–Hartmann sensors are used in astronomy to measure telescopes and in medicine to identify refractive errors. The actual technology is based on a MIT patent licensed exclusively to EyeQue. The scientific explanation on how VisionCheck works is beyond the scope of this review but, if you’re interested there’s a detailed explanation on the EyeQue website.
What you will notice during testing are two parallel beams of light that come from the smartphone display onto the retina of your eyes. The light forms red and green lines are which separated by 2.5 mm when they leave the smartphone (so that they can fit through your pupil).
The test involves moving the red and green lines closer together until they overlap and turn a single yellow colour. The amount of movement a user requires to achieve this overlap determines the refractive correction needed to get the eye to focus correctly. This is done a few times from multiple angles in order to provide the sphere, cylinder and axis needed to correct your vision with eyeglasses.
These results are interpreted by algorithms in the EyeQue Cloud and can then be viewed in the VisionCheck smartphone app and in more detail on the website dashboard. They can also be shared with your doctor or used to order glasses online at the touch of a button.
EyeQue says, the device is non-invasive and completely safe to use. There are several optic lenses inside VisionCheck, so only a fraction of the light from the smartphone actually reaches your eyes. It’s worth noting the gizmo is designed for the 18 and above, and should not be used by people with special eye health conditions or those who need prism lenses.
Purchasing EyeQue VisionCheck comes with a one year All-Access Membership for one person. After that an annual subscription costs $4.99 per year. Users can include other family members for an additional $4.99 per year.
You will need to create an account the first time you use the device. Start off by downloading the VisionCheck smartphone app from the App Store or Google Play. Create an account by answering a few basic questions and you’re set to go. All of this takes no longer than a few minutes.
I recommend you take a few practice tests before moving to an “official” test. This is so you get used to the procedure. It took me about 2-3 practice tests before I became confident and proficient at using the device. In fact, the first time I looked through the lens, I struggled to focus enough to even see the red and green lines! It does get easier, though. After a bit of practice it becomes a breeze.
To conduct a measurement, click on the Test tab in the smartphone app, switch on VisionCheck and click on Start Now in the app. The blue light on the device will start blinking. Then tap the Scan button in the app and select the device once it locates it. You’ll know that it is paired when the LED on VisionCheck turns to a solid Blue. I conducted multiple tests over the few weeks of use and never had any issues with pairing.
Now its time to physically attach VisionCheck to your smartphone. Simply place the device on the smartphone screen in the middle of the indicated area, and secure with the rubber safety band. Make sure the touch sensors are facing up and that the volume on your smartphone is turned up. This is because the app provides useful audio instructions.
You will first need to administer a refractive error test for your right eye, then your left eye. From reading distance, slowly move VisionCheck towards you until it touches your eye. You should see a red and a green line when looking through the thing. Keep your other eye open focused on an object in your immediate surroundings. It’s difficult at first, but remember – it does become very easy after a few tests.
As stated above, your goal is to overlap the lines until they change to a solid yellow colour. To move the lines towards or away from each other, simply use the touch sensors at the top of the device. You will hear a slight noise when doing this, which is the motor turning the dial at the top of the miniscope.
Once done simply click the next button and you will be presented with two more lines, but at a different angle. To finish the test you’ll need to do this a total of nine times. Then it’s time to do the same thing again – but this time with your left eye. Once you become proficient, it takes no longer than 5 minutes to complete the test for both eyes.
It takes three full tests to get your first set of EyeGlass Numbers. Because your vision fluctuates throughout the day, EyeQue recommends you take readings at different times throughout the day.
After that you can use the PDCheck to measure your pupillary distance. This is even simpler. The tool comes in the form of a glassless pair of frames. You put them on, align the frames so they fit just inside the oval outline pictured on your smartphone, and take a selfie.
The app then allows you to tweak the results by overlapping “T” marks to your frames and aligning the “+” marks to the centre of your pupils. Once that is done you have the results. I found it didn’t really require too much tweaking, as the app did a good job of automatically allocating all the important points.
VisionCheck is a self-administered test so results vary based on your ability to take consistent measurements. So pay attention to the instructions because you play an important role here.
If the app finds your results are inconsistent, it will inform that more testing is needed before you can order glasses. I seem to have done a good job because it took only three tests for the app to present me with this option.
EyeGlass Numbers consist of the corrective power for Spherical (nearsightedness (as indicated by a “-” figure), farsightedness (“+”)), Cylindrical and Axis (indicates the lens power for astigmatism and the direction in which the cylinder correction is to be applied), NV ADD+ (reading vision for bifocals and progressives) and Pupillary distance (PD) (in millimetres between the centres of your pupils).
According to EyeQue analysis, the margin of error for spherical and cylindrical measurements are within +/-0.25 diopters. The margin of error for pupillary distance is within 1mm.
I purposefully conducted the tests prior to looking at my eye doctor’s subscription. In the end, I found the accuracy of VisionCheck’s end result was pleasantly surprising.
EyeGlass Number results can be viewed in the smartphone app. However, this is a pretty basic affair. For more detailed analysis and a timeline of your results I suggest you head over to the online dashboard.
The website dashboard will also show you a graphical representation of your results, along with other features. The blue dots in the chart below represent individual test results, the large coloured circles the degree of correction.
On to the all important question – how did these results compare to my doctor’s eye prescription? Have a look for yourself.
The official prescription is from about a year ago but it almost exactly matches the data dished out by VisionCheck.
The spherical and cylindrical values for my right eye are exactly the same between the two, at +0.50 and -0.75 respectively. The Axis value produced by VisionCheck was 13% as compared to 15% from my eye doctor. The Near-ADD figure was exactly the same, +1.50.
There was a slight difference for my left eye spherical with VisionCheck giving me a 0.25 indicating a minor correction, compared to 0.00 from my official test. In any case, the value is within EyeQue’s +/-0.25 margin of error.
But, as you can see from the graph above, out of the six tests only two were outside the green area for my left eye – which means the result was probably bordering on 0.25. Also, my eye doctor test was done over a year ago and I suspect my vision did not improve since then!
Going into this review I was unsure on what to expect. Ultimately I came out pleasantly surprised. CES honored the company with not one, but two CES Innovations Awards, in 2017 and 2019. For a reason.
VisionCheck allows you to monitor changes in your vision from the comfort of your home. In some ways the reports churned out by the device are even more detailed that those you get from your eye doctor. Most importantly, I found the results to be extremely accurate.
There is a learning curve and it does take a bit of practice before you become proficient at using the device. But once that’s out of the way, testing becomes a breeze.
Annual eye doctor vision exams are important. They can identify health issues VisionCheck can’t, such as glaucoma, cataracts and more. But these exams aren’t enough.
Regular quick, at-home refractive error tests can help you identify changes in your vision in-between these visits. This can be used to alert to health issues, order glasses online and it ensures you have up-to-date knowledge on how your vision is changing over time.
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