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Portable vision testing kit puts an eye doctor in your smartphone

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Portable vision testing kit puts an eye doctor in your smartphone

Lisa-Ann Lee

Dec 31, 2016

Despite the fact that many of us spend a good portion of our day in front of a computer or pouring over documents, chances are we don't get our eyes checked as often as we should. Whatever the reason for this, there's now a solution that renders most of our excuses moot: the EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker, a smartphone-enabled vision testing kit that costs less than the average monthly cellphone bill.

What sets it apart from other smartphone-based eye exam kits – such as the SVOne by New York-based Smart Vision Labs, and Peek – is that it is designed for frequent consumer use.

At close to US$4,000, SVOne is targeted at helping eye doctors slash their expenses by providing comparable equipment for a fraction of the cost of conventional eye-testing devices, which can cost as much as $40,000. Peek, on the other hand, is a visual acuity test designed for use in developing countries.

There are a few things that make the EyeQue vision tracker, which is based on a patented refraction concept invented at MIT, worth a second look. First, there's the convenience it offers. Ordering eyeglasses online is now much easier thanks to the EyeGlass Numbers it generates from the vision tests you take. These are essentially the spherical, cylindrical and axis numbers that eye doctors use to generate a prescription.

Secondly, taking the test is reportedly easy and not unlike playing a game. By attaching the microscope to their smartphone and then aligning the red bar with the green on the touchscreen, users are able to assess their eyesight for refractive errors, such as astigmatism and nearsightedness.

A recent study that pitted the tracker against an industry standard autorefractor showed that its results were comparable to those generated by the latter. The tests can be taken as often as desired and since the results of each session are stored in the cloud, they can be reviewed over time to identify any trends or irregularities.

Finally, there's its price tag. The device comprises a mini microscope that should retail for an estimated $29.99. The app, which is Android and iOS compatible, is free. Each purchase comes with one free set of EyeGlass numbers, with additional sets costing $1.99 each. Instead of waiting a year or longer to have one's eyes tested, users can now test and track their vision changes in between eye exams as often as they want.

That said, the company cautions users against utilizing the device as a replacement for visits to the eye doctor. While it can reveal refractive errors, eye health is a different matter. Eye diseases and disorders are not necessarily tied to fluctuations in vision, hence the importance of going for an annual full-eye health exam even if one's eyesight has not gone south.

The device recently topped the Fitness, Sports, and Biotech category at the 2017 CES Innovation Awards and was a finalist at the 2017 Prism Awards. Five more days remain in its Kickstarter campaign, which has already exceeded its $25,000 goal more than three times. This is also good news for Dutch non-profit TWOBILLIONEYES, which provides eyeglasses to the visually-impaired in low-income countries, as EyeQue has pledged to donate three percent of its proceeds to the organization.

Pledges start at $25 for an EyeQue miniscope, and all Kickstarter backers – as well as those who sign up for an account on the company's website from now through April 1, 2017 – will receive free unlimited access to vision tests, tracking, as well as EyeGlass Numbers without any expiration.

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