Smiling woman cataract patient on phone checking vision insurance benefits

The Basics of Telemedicine for Eye Care

Have you noticed that your eye is itchy or irritated? It’s possible you may have an eye infection, but you can never be too sure.  


Going to the eye doctor can be easier said than done, especially if you need assistance with getting there. Not to worry — you have options to visit the doctor without even leaving your house! 


If you're pressed for time, unable to get yourself to your doctor's office, or need help in a hurry, telemedicine can be a great alternative to a traditional in-person visit that doesn't compromise your care. 


Telemedicine allows you to receive medical advice virtually. Your eye doctor may be able to diagnose and manage harmful eye conditions through an online video call. This means you don’t have to travel to your eye doctor when you’re experiencing eye problems, which is especially helpful for those with transportation or mobility issues. 

What is Telemedicine?

Simply put, telemedicine is when you use your phone or computer to connect with a health professional online for medical advice. It can even be used to receive a diagnosis and treatment for select medical conditions. 


Telemedicine offers easy access to healthcare and can reduce your number of visits to emergency rooms and doctor's offices. Oftentimes, it's more cost-effective, and with real-time visits as you're able to learn about your treatment options within minutes. 


Even before COVID-19 changed the way we live, telemedicine was a well-respected and popular alternative to an in-person doctor's visit in many fields of medicine, including eye care. Studies show that telemedicine has the potential to improve the patient's experience and assess the need for a more comprehensive in-person visit in the future.   

Why Use Telemedicine? 

There are many different reasons why you may choose telemedicine for your eye care over an in-person visit. Lack of transportation is just one of the reasons we’ve already discussed, along with disability and an illness that limits your mobility. You may also seek telehealth services if you live in an area with limited access to medical care.    Telehealth visits are especially beneficial for those who are immunosuppressed or want to limit their exposure to germs as much as possible, as a doctor’s office has many visitors.  Online health visits are also more convenient than an in-person appointment, as they let you choose where you’re having your eye exam and require less commute. 

What is Telemedicine Used For?

It’s important to know that telemedicine is not an option for all eye problems or conditions. Some eye emergencies will require tests or treatments that cannot be provided virtually.  However, telemedicine can be used to manage certain eye conditions and eye emergencies, as well as assess whether an in-office visit is required. Some examples of conditions that may be diagnosed virtually are: 

  • Dry eye: An irritating, burning, or stinging sensation in the eye caused by inadequate tear production. 

  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage: A red blood spot on the white of your eye that may be caused by straining or trauma to the eye. 

  • Chalazion: A swollen bump on your eyelid caused by blocked oil glands. 

  • Blepharitis: An inflammation of the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes that is causing irritation and redness in your eye. Clogged oil glands, allergies, or an infection can cause this condition. 

Note that not all eye doctors offer telemedicine, and many limit what they're able to offer virtually. To get a clearer picture of what our eye doctors currently provide, visit our telehealth page for up-to-date details.