The SVOne looks nothing like any of the equipment you’re accustomed to seeing in those dark, slightly ominous optometry offices. Rather, it’s a handheld device, comprised of little more than an iPhone camera, a processor, and a wireless connection. Weighing in at less than a single pound, the SVOne has an eyepiece on one side, and an iPhone on the other. So yes — this really is a test that you could do entirely on your own.
And if you’re worried about leaving the fate of your prescription in the hands of an iPhone, don’t be. “An iPhone’s camera capabilities and processing are just as good as the technology we were using over 10 years ago at an advanced research lab,” Marc Albanese, one of Smart Vision Labs’ two cofounders, told Fast Company. And that’s true even of the iPhone 5s, released two years ago.
So how does it work? “The core technology on the device to measure refractive error is wavefront aberrometry,” the team explains, which is “the same technology used in LASIK surgery to identify the imperfection of the eyes.”
In essence, when you look into the device, the SVOne shines a grid of around 100 red dots onto your retina. The iPhone camera then takes pictures of the dots as the light is reflected back, and the Smart Vision app analyzes discrepancies in the pattern. If spots have moved away from the original grid, you’re farsighted. If they’ve moved within the grid, you’re nearsighted. And if the pattern has become somewhat oval in shape, you have astigmatism.
All the data captured by the SVOne is ultimately sent to a network of remote doctors, who sign off on the final prescriptions, which patients can access by way of a password-protected web portal.
“We initially founded Smart Vision Labs to make vision tests more portable and clearer vision more attainable for the public by providing doctors a new, highly accurate way to administer vision care to underserved communities around the world,” said Yaopeng Zhou, cofounder and CEO of Smart Vision Labs. “After seeing how the SVOne was able to help administer better vision care for so many people, we saw that there was also a need for improved vision care here in the United States. With the launch of SVOne Enterprise, we are now introducing the world’s most convenient and intuitive self-guided vision test in New York City, and plan to make better vision more convenient for everyone.”