Today’s Vision wants you to know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against a company that offers so-called “eye exams” via an app on a mobile device. The California-based company, Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc., agreed to stop making unsupported claims that its app can improve users’ vision, and pay $150,000 in order to settle the FTC charges that the company was deceiving consumers with false product claims.

While mobile “eye exams” might seem convenient, these vision screening tests do not and cannot take the place of a comprehensive eye exam performed in person by an eye doctor. A comprehensive eye exam not only measures visual acuity, it also provides extensive data about the health of the eye, and the doctor can observe early signs of disease throughout the body, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

According to the FTC, Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc. advertised and sold the app with claims that it was “scientifically shown to improve vision” and that users would benefit from “comprehensive vision improvement,” reducing the need for glasses and contact lenses. The FTC said that the studies cited by the company do not prove the product works, and furthermore, faulted the company for not disclosing that the company’s owner had performed the research. The FTC proposed prohibits the company from misrepresenting scientific research, and requires it to clearly disclose such connections.

The FTC action received coverage in the national news, and was praised by leaders in eye care.

“By taking action against this app, the FTC has acted decisively to safeguard public health,” said Dr. Steven A. Loomis, president of the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Dr. Loomis and other eye care leaders have appealed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate other companies that offer online and mobile “eye exams.” The AOA said these companies are making inaccurate claims and should be tested and regulated as a medical device. Medical devices are regulated by the FDA.

The AOA is sponsoring a TV, radio and internet campaign called “Think About Your Eyes” that promotes the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams and full-scope care provided by doctors of optometry, such as your eye doctor at Today’s Vision.