The future of optometry, like so many other things, may be in your pocket; on your smartphone to be exact. A new app called Blink allows patients to go through an eye exam from their home, office, or wherever. Eye technicians administer the test from a remote space using three handheld devices which allow them to collect necessary information for a prescription. The information is then sent to an optometrist who can write the prescription and send it out to the patient. This system may allow optometrists to care for many more patients than previously before, hopefully reducing costs and improving access to care.
Blink is made by EyeNetra and consists of a mobile application along with a set of small devices. An eye exam costs $75 using the service. The company hopes to make getting an eye exam more convenient and potentially leading to cost reductions as the traditional expensive equipment is no longer needed with this service. It is likely that the service will mostly use optometrists as opposed to those who specialize in ophthalmology (as they are medical doctors and have higher fees). Using the combination of remote-located optometrists and a team of technicians, Blink has the potential to take eye care the way of telemedicine.
The Blink system comes with three eye exam tools. One attaches to your smartphone and serves as an autorefractor would in a traditional setup. The device uses the display on your phone to shine colored beams of light to your eyes and you adjust the beams to your eyes allowing the program to calculate your refractive error. A second device also attaches to the phone and acts as the lensmeter. This is how the system can tell what the strength of your current glasses is. A final device acts as the phoropter and works to figure out the strength of the prescription that you now need. This is done as you look at an eye chart with various lens settings and you tell the device what looks the clearest to you. The whole process is really very neat and may have a disruptive effect on the space as the technology develops and use increases.
Blink joins a number of other diagnostic centric apps which will hopefully help reduce healthcare costs and improve access to providers. The entire process takes about 20 minutes and a prescription can be sent within 24 hours. The company has done testing it for over a year with hundreds of people and has concluded based on current data that their app service is comparable to the real thing. It is currently limited to only certain regional areas, but Blink could be the start of the future of optical healthcare. There are still some concerns with the system including even the cost, but EyeNetra claims it is working on solutions which will further improve access even beyond Blink. The future may be right around the corner when it comes to eye health and it sure looks exciting!
Image credit: eyenetra.com
Author Bio: Tony Rollan provides consulting services to VSI (http://www.patternless.com) and he is an author of many articles on all types of optical and ophthalmic equipment. Author talks about medicine, health, alternative healing, sport and well being.