Back in the deepest dark ages (about 30 years ago) when I first went for my driver’s license, I had to undergo a vision test. Doing so involved a visit to a medical practitioner to perform the test.
This was clearly both inconvenient for me and, more importantly, something of a waste of resources. The same went for people needing vision-correcting spectacles who had to visit an optometrist to get checked and prescribed correctional lenses.
Fast forward to today and companies like Smart Vision Labs are fundamentally changing the way this process works. Smart Vision Labs was founded in 2013 by Yaopeng Zhou and Marc Albanese, with the vision (pun intended) of changing the way people get their vision tested. The company went to market in 2014 with a product, the SVOne handheld autorefactor. The device is a tool which captures a person’s refractive aberrations so doctors can write a corrective prescription.
But a device alone is only one part of the equation and SV Labs is extending its offering today with the announcement of SVOne Enterprise -- a combination of the device and a network of distributed eye doctors.
SVOne Enterprise provide's users with a self-guided vision testing system -- initially, it will only be available in New York City optical stores. The SVOne Enterprise captures a person's refractive error and sends the data for analysis to a remote network of eye doctors who help provide updated eyeglass prescriptions within 24 hours. Patients can also access a permanent record of their eyeglass prescription within a password-protected web portal and can choose where to purchase eyewear.
Instead of needing an in-house eye doctor, optical stores can leverage a network of these professionals. And rather than potentially having to make two separate trips to different providers, consumers can get a total service at the one location.
The product extends SV Labs initial focus from the current one of the developing world:
“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, co-founder 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’re 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.”
There would seem to be a big opportunity in the U.S. for this offering -- nearly 200 million Americans are in need of vision correction but only 106 million eye exams are performed yearly. On average there is one eye doctor for every 5,000 people. Personalizing telemedicine promotes ownership of one’s own medical data, and with Smart Vision Labs, prescriptions are always accessible with a click of a button.
It's always good to see smart technology being paired with distributed service provision. It would be trite to write that SV Labs is the Uber of vision correction, but in many ways it is.
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