Smart Vision Labs launches consumer-facing, smartphone-enabled vision exam with telemedicine support in NYC store

By Heather Mack

New York City-based Smart Vision Labs, creator of the smartphone-based autorefractor for vision testing, announced the launch of the SVOne Enterprise, an intuitive, self-guided vision testing system now available in a handful of New York eyeglasses stores.

SVOne Enterprise leverages the company’s early offering,SVOne, which is a handheld autorefactor about the size of a brick that attaches to a smartphone and measures refraction errors in the patient’s eye using wavefront aberrometry. Originally designed for use by eye care professionals, the SVOne is now paired with a proprietary telemedicine platform, allowing the device to be used by patients directly. Wherever SVOne Enterprise is available, patients can take a self-guided vision exam and the data is sent to a remote network of doctors, who can then either write a digital prescription or recommend a full eye health exam if necessary.

“We’re addressing a huge shortage,” Yaopeng Zhou, co-founder of Smart Vision Labs told MobiHealthNews. “A lot of optical stores can’t afford to have an eye doctor on hand, and a lot of people can’t afford or have time to go to a specialist.”

While the launch is small for now – just five stores will be offering the technology initially – SmartVision sees opportunities to go to market through a variety of channels.

“The technology actually has quite a bit of applications in different channels, “ Zhou said. “Pharmacy, clinics, even corporate wellness. But the soft spot is traditional optical stores. We’re really aiming to build out to 40 or 50 stores around New York City, then expand internationally.”

For now, Smart Vision will focus on two goals: First, providing the convenience to consumers by turning the chore of making and attending a doctor’s appointment and waiting for a prescription into a quick pop into a store with SVOne Enterprise. Secondly, the company will develop co-branding with partner stores and helping the store create more revenue. (There is no outright cost to start SVOne Enterprise, but $40 to access the system in the network).

Zhou founded Smart Vision Labs in 2013 with Marc Albanese with the initial goal to make vision tests more portable; enabling doctors around the world to administer accurate vision care to underserved communities. Since they took their product to market in 2015, they also saw the need for increased vision care domestically, which led them to develop SVOne Enterprise.

“When we started, we understood this was a major disruption to the market,” Albanese told MobiHealthNews. “We launched the first generation product and sold it to doctors. That was more than 500 doctors across 23 countries, and then we realized how much could be done in the US.”

Now, Albanese said, the company has turned to the US market to solve a problem they believe stems from a convenience factor. Not all healthcare plans offer vision coverage, and many optical stores don’t have an on-site doctor. (In fact, there is only about one eye doctor for every 5,000 people in the country). Together, this makes the process of getting vision testing and prescriptions fragmented and time-consuming.

“There is a big problem out there – over 200 million Americans need a prescription for glasses, but only about 100 million are getting them,” said Albanese. “You can really make a dent in that universe by making exams quicker and cheaper.”

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