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Is it possible to cheat on an eye exam?

young girl cheating on her eye exam with the eye cover test

Can you cheat on an eye exam?

Yes, “cheating” on an eye exam is possible. People may do this by memorizing vision charts or skewing their answers during their exam. But this is not a recommended practice for several reasons: It can result in visual discomfort, an incorrect prescription, road dangers and even legal trouble.

Why would someone cheat on an eye exam?

Here are a few reasons a person might try to cheat on, or throw the results of, their eye exam:

To avoid getting glasses

Someone may try to cheat on an eye exam because they don’t want to wear glasses or contact lenses. Eye doctors typically prescribe corrective lenses to treat refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism

Myopia is a common vision problem among children and adults that causes faraway objects to appear blurry. Hyperopia makes it hard to see close-up objects clearly. Most cases can be corrected with eyeglasses or contacts. 

But some people don’t like the way they look in glasses or how glasses feel on their face. They may also be nervous about wearing contacts. So, they are dishonest about their eyesight to avoid having to wear any corrective lenses at all.

SEE RELATED: How do I know if I need glasses? 

To “trick” or bypass certain legal requirements

Others may try to skew the results of an eye exam in order to bypass the vision requirements for a driver’s license. For example, if a person doesn’t want to wear glasses while they drive, they may lie about whether they need glasses to see clearly on the road. This can lead to dangerous driving and serious road hazards, though, and should be avoided.

Another serious circumstance of cheating on an eye exam? Someone doing so in an attempt to get low vision or disability benefits for the blind from the government. Not only is this dishonest, but it can also lead to serious legal trouble.

Why you shouldn’t cheat on an eye exam

Cheating on an eye exam won’t do you or your vision any favors. It can be potentially dangerous as well. In some cases, you could even face legal consequences for lying during an eye exam and/or being dishonest about your visual acuity or any eye or vision conditions you have. 

Here are some reasons why you should always be honest about your eyesight, especially during an eye exam:

Vision can be negatively affected by the incorrect prescription

Wearing the wrong prescription can cause you to suffer from eye strain, headaches, blurriness and more. This can be the case whether the prescription you receive is too weak or too strong. 

Cheating on an eye exam only does harm to you and your eyes. If you have myopia or another condition that requires corrective lenses, it’s important to be honest during your eye exam so that you can get the appropriate correction or treatment for your vision.

Eventually, you will need to get the correct prescription. Until you take care of the problematic glasses or contacts, you will likely continue to experience discomfort and strain in your vision.

Cheating on a driving vision exam can lead to danger on the road

If you need to wear corrective lenses to drive, you’ll have a special record of this noted on your driver’s license. Driving without prescription glasses or contacts, as it is indicated on your license, can be dangerous and even illegal depending on where you live.

Some people may think to cheat on a vision test given at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in order to get out of wearing glasses as they drive. But if you need vision correction on the road, being dishonest about it can be a risk for several reasons:

  • Driving without glasses or with the wrong prescription is very dangerous for you, other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, wildlife and other things on the road. Simply put, you need to be able to see everything clearly as you drive.

  • If your uncorrected myopia leads to an accident, you could face additional consequences — in both legal and ethical terms.

  • In addition to taking a huge safety risk, if you are pulled over and a police officer learns that you are driving without the required vision correction noted on your license, you can be ticketed. 

These are just a few examples of how important your vision is for road safety. Always drive responsibly and contact an eye doctor for an eye exam if you have any trouble seeing clearly on the road.

SEE RELATED: Safe driving tips for new and veteran drivers

Seeking fraudulent vision benefits can get you into legal trouble

Those who have severe visual impairments or legal blindness may qualify for financial benefits from some U.S. government programs. In order to receive these disability benefits, you must meet certain criteria, such as: 

  • You are unable to work due to your condition.

  • You’ll be disabled for at least one year, or your disability could lead to death.

  • You cannot adjust your working circumstances or switch to another type of work because of your disability.

If you meet these criteria, you can apply for special benefits.

But exaggerating a visual impairment in order to receive payments from the government can get you into a great deal of legal trouble. If a medical professional signed off on fraudulent paperwork for any benefits you received, they could also face major consequences. 

Proper vision correction is crucial

At the end of the day, proper vision correction is important for driving and other frequent tasks. Myopia and other vision problems can feel like an inconvenience, but leaving them uncorrected or living with the wrong prescription can do more harm than good. 

Not to mention: Trying to cheat on a vision test (or any medical exam) can lead to discomfort, danger and even legal trouble depending on the circumstances. 

Always be honest during your eye exams and don’t hesitate to tell your eye doctor if you find yourself having vision problems. 

How to spot vision exam "cheaters". Review of Optometry. June 2018.

Detecting cheating when testing vision: Variability in acuity measures reveals misrepresentation. Optometry and Vision Science. June 2018.

How you qualify | Disability benefits. The United States Social Security Administration. Accessed December 2021. 

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