Automated eye exams

23 June

Eye exams these days have changed a lot since I started going to an eye doctor at a very young age. I remember visiting an old ophthalmologist who ran a very comprehensive and manual set of tests on my eyes. It took over an hour, probably closer to two! Back then, I was not a child to sit quietly for such a long period so it was a kind of punishment/torture for me every time I was dragged there. I vaguely remember not only having a visual acuity test (to determine how bad my vision was) but I remember him numbing my eye with yellow drops so he could check the eye pressure and dilating my pupils so he could stare really closely into my eye. It was quite disconcerting. I kept thinking “Stop sticking your face in my eye, Doctor!”

Things are a bit different these days as I quickly found out when I went for an eye exam locally. Talk about gizmo gadgets! First, I was seen by a technician who sat me down in front of two machines. One was an autorefractor which automatically determined my prescription very quickly (in seconds). The second machine sent puffs of air against my eye in order to measure the eye pressure (to check for glaucoma so I was told). There was also a gadget which looked at my current eyeglasses and determined what the prescription was – just as well since I couldn’t remember, it’s been so long!

This meant that the actual time I spent with the optometrist was less than 30mins. I thought, hmmm, with the automation of certain types of tests, this allowed a technician to execute the tests and did not require the optometrist to personally execute them manually. Yes, the optometrist looked at the automated results and ensured they were consistent with her own findings but ultimately, it saved her a lot of time. This gave her more time to spend on collecting the patient’s history and examining the eye for other problems not detected by the automated tests. And, of course, this meant the optometrist was able to see more patients which translated directly into more money for the company!

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Think about automated tests. We automate certain types of tests, which free up the test analyst to focus on other things, including looking for bugs in areas which were not exercised by the automated tests. However, a test analyst still validates the results of the automated tests and if inconsistent with their own findings will investigate further. Needless to say any failed automated test will also need to be investigated.

I know some test analysts who are scared of test automation and are afraid their jobs will be replaced. I beg to differ. I think test automation frees us up to do more exciting things and to explore new testing frontiers which otherwise would not have been possible were we to do all our tests manually.


Posted by Donna Chin