While online astigmatism testing can help you know you may have astigmatism, you’ll need a comprehensive eye exam performed in an eye professional’s office for an official diagnosis.

If you have trouble seeing due to blurring in your vision, you may have astigmatism or a similar refractive error and might benefit from online testing.

If you haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam in several years, get one instead of taking an online vision test. Even though online tests are convenient, they do not provide the same comprehensive level of testing as an in-person test performed by an eye care professional.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Can You Test for Astigmatism Online?

Astigmatism is a vision condition in which a person experiences blurring due to an irregular cornea shape or lens curvature. This can cause blurring regardless of distance, with your exact level of visual acuity sometimes varying by the angle at which you look at an object.

Generally speaking, the best way to test for astigmatism is to receive a comprehensive eye exam from a medical professional. The traditional way to do this is in-office, although online tests have grown in popularity.

While expert opinions differ on how online tests compare to in-office exams, reputable online tests can at least catch moderate or worse levels of astigmatism. This can lead to a corrective eyewear prescription that helps correct astigmatism.

The Basics of At-Home Astigmatism Testing

At-home astigmatism testing, where you conduct the exam yourself, is not going to get accurate enough data points to determine what prescription of glasses or contacts you need to correct astigmatism. However, it can help you determine if you have astigmatism.

This can make an online astigmatism test a good starting point if the help of a medical professional isn’t available. A few semi-standardized at-home tests can easily be found online.

These are two types of at-home astigmatism testing:

Dial Test

For this test, you first find an example of a dial diagram, which is a series of black lines positioned in a semi-circle, like the one here. Looking at the chart from about 10 feet away, you slowly observe each line, covering one eye and then repeating the same test covering your other eye.

If you have astigmatism, the lines may appear gray or otherwise lighter than each other from certain angles despite the fact they are all dark black.

Line Test

This is a similar test, in which several squares made up of lines set at different angles are observed. Again, looking at the squares from 10 feet away and testing one eye at a time, look at each square slowly.

If the lines composing the squares look gray or distorted, you may have astigmatism.

How to Take an Online Eye Exam

While an in-person astigmatism test is recommended to get the high level of prescription accuracy needed to effectively correct astigmatism, you can get a prescription from online eye exams.

If you would like to take an online exam, follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Get a Computer, Smartphone & Stable Internet ConnectionMost accurate online eye tests require two digital devices, as you will have to position screens at multiple distances for your testing. This is usually done with a computer and a smartphone. You will also need a stable internet connection, so you can receive instructions and potentially talk with a medical professional.You may also need to download a testing company’s app onto the devices you intend to use, depending on the service you choose. This is not unusual, but make sure you are downloading the real app from a reputable company.
  2. Make an Account With a Reputable Testing ServiceYou have a few options to choose from when getting an online vision test. Look at customer reviews and read expert opinions.Be wary of services that charge large amounts for their tests. A report written by CNN’s Jacqueline Howard explored a service from Opternative that could provide a meaningfully accurate online test for between $40 and $60. Most tests should not cost much more than that.

    Also, check to make sure the service you choose can give you a prescription upon completion of the test. If they don’t, you will need to pay an eye professional for further testing.

  3. Follow All InstructionsOnce you have the proper equipment and an account set up, follow the instructions outlined by the company so you can begin your test. It is important you follow all instructions closely. Otherwise, you may get inaccurate results from your testing, which could lead to a useless prescription.When your test is complete, the information will then be reviewed by a medical professional who will provide you with a corrective eyewear prescription.
  4. Save All Provided Prescription InformationOnce you have a prescription from a medical professional, you can effectively get glasses or contacts in the same way you could with a prescription from an in-office visit. Save this prescription information for future use.

Are Online & At-Home Eye Tests Accurate?

The accuracy of online eye testing is somewhat debated.

Again, it is important to distinguish that an online eye exam is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam. Online vision tests, even from reputable companies, can test the basics of your visual acuity and help determine what corrective eyewear could benefit you.

A comprehensive eye exam, performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist in their office, will thoroughly test your eye health and visual acuity. This isn’t just about getting you a prescription for glasses or contacts. It’s about assessing your overall eye health and checking for any eye diseases or conditions.

If certain issues are detected, supplementary testing may be recommended. Comprehensive eye exams are essential for your vision and your overall health.

For contact and glasses prescriptions only, online vision tests that are conducted correctly by a reputable company seem to produce results comparable to those of an in-office vision test. Minor differences are possible. For example, a CNN report noted that subtle astigmatism may be missed in online tests.

Broadly, online tests can produce accurate enough results that the prescriptions provided can help a person see a dramatic improvement in their vision.

At-home testing, where a patient only looks at eye charts with no medical professional or computer-run assistance, is rudimentary. It can help you to quickly check if you may have a notable level of astigmatism or other problems with your visual acuity, but that is largely the limit of its reach.

You should seek a more comprehensive test following the online exam to better understand what specific vision problems you may have and what corrections your eyes need.

Online Astigmatism Testing FAQs

  • Can I test myself for astigmatism online?

    Yes, it’s possible to use an online test for astigmatism, but its effectiveness is limited. An online test may give you an idea of whether you have astigmatism, but you should see a professional in person to assess its severity and get a prescription to correct it.

  • How can I test myself for astigmatism?

    At-home testing for astigmatism includes either a dial or a line test. These tests can help you determine if you may have astigmatism, but they are very limited in their capabilities.

    You can easily miss mild astigmatism with these tests. If you do detect the signs of astigmatism, you will still need a medical professional to get an accurate prescription for corrective eyewear like glasses or contacts.

  • What are the signs of astigmatism?

    Astigmatism is a type of refractive error where you experience blurring in your vision regardless of distance as a result of irregularities in your eye’s shape. These are other common symptoms of astigmatism:

    • Eyestrain
    • General eye discomfort
    • Problems seeing at night
    • Headaches
    • Needing to squint to see clearly
  • Can you have 20/20 vision with astigmatism?

    Yes, it’s possible to have uncorrected 20/20 vision with mild astigmatism.

  • Can LASIK fix astigmatism?

    Generally, yes. LASIK is able to correct most cases of astigmatism. In a LASIK consultation, your potential surgeon will map the surface of your cornea to determine what level of correction LASIK can give you if you are a candidate.

References

Astigmatism. American Optometric Association.

Home Vision Tests for Children and Adults. (March 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Test Yourself for Astigmatism in 3 Easy Steps. Vision and Eye Health.

Influence of Different Types of Astigmatism on Visual Acuity. (July–September 2017). Journal of Optometry.

The Doctor Will ‘See’ You Now: Online vs. In-person Vision Tests. (March 2018). CNN.

What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment. (February 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Comprehensive Eye Exams. American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Comparative study of the outcome of LASIK in Moderate Versus High Astigmatism. (April 2014). Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

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