A Smartphone Eye Exam Service Launches in New York

A service called Blink is launching today in New York that will bring an eye exam to your home or office for $75, administered by a technician who uses a trio of handheld devices that take the place of the bulky autorefractor, lensmeter, and phoropter you may have seen in an eye doctor’s office.
The technician will send the results to an optometrist, who will write a prescription if necessary and e-mail it to you (in the U.S., only ophthalmologists and optometrists can legally write eyeglass prescriptions).
Blink is the product of EyeNetra, a startup that has been working for several years on smartphone-connected eye-exam tools. The idea behind Blink is to make eye exams more convenient (and in some cases more affordable) by redesigning the expensive, typically immovable equipment that usually crowds a doctor’s or optometrist’s office as much cheaper, smaller tools that rely on a smartphone to do some of the work.
The Blink tools join a growing number of smartphone-connected diagnostic gadgets that companies hope will make it simpler and cheaper for anyone, not just doctors, to diagnose health problems. Eventually, this could reduce health-care costs, and make it easier for people to get medical help even if they don’t live near a doctor’s office.
Blink’s eye exam tools include a black device that looks sort of like a View-Master with a smartphone bolted to it, which takes the place of an autorefractor for measuring your level of focusing error. The device uses a Blink app shown on the smartphone’s display to shine red and green beams of light at your eyes.
You line up these beams with a dial and the app figures out your refractive error by measuring the difference between where the beams are on the screen and how much you adjust them. For now, Blink is offering exams only for eyeglasses prescriptions, and only in certain neighborhoods in New York City, but Blink plans to branch out to other cities.