A lack of vision care is a serious issue in the United States; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 12 million Americans 40 years and over have vision impairment. A staggering 93 million U.S. adults are at a high risk for vision loss… yet only about half of these people visit eye doctors. The cost of care is an obstacle for many, and minority communities and historically underserved populations have some of the highest risks of vision loss. Making an affordable, at-home solution is important, if not essential, in meeting this healthcare dearth. EyeQue just may be one such solution.

Billed as the “world’s first automated at-home vision test,” the EyeQue VisionCheck system costs just $79. It offers smartphone-based tests that let users track and measure several vision factors — including color deficiency, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity — anywhere and at any time.

So how does it work? The VisionCheck system comprises a Bluetooth-powered optical monocular scope (a binocular model is on deck) and a mobile app that connects to a Cloud-based platform. To take a vision test, the user looks into the scope which is attached to the face of a smartphone. The app takes axis, sphere, and cylinder measurements, collectively called EyeQue Refraction Measurements (ERMs). These measurements are commonly used by ophthalmologists to create prescription glasses, as the sphere indicates the strength of the prescription needed, the axis gauges imperfections in the curvature of the eye, and the cylinder number indicates the lens strength required to correct that imperfection.

Holding the smartphone at nearly arm’s length, users then measure the distance between their pupils, which is used to determine where you look through the lenses of glasses. With these pupilary distance numbers and ERMs, the EyeQue TryOn Glasses and the EyeQue Insight features verify that glasses or contacts correct to 20/20 vision. Data is stored on EyeQue’s server, and can be used to buy contacts or corrective lenses for much less than one might spend when starting from scratch with an ophthalmologist. EyeQue is also developing a service that will be able to fill prescriptions. Note that the test is for vision acuity only; it does not cover glaucoma or other medical conditions that can be detected by a routine ophthalmologist’s exam.

To date, EyeQue has tested the system with more than 50,000 people and is working with charities, donating 25 thousand units to an Oklahoma service for Native Americans. And while EyeQue devices have thus far been aimed at consumers, they’re targeting businesses including medical facilities to broaden their reach. EyeQue CEO Dr. John Serri says, “The future of at-home testing is here and now…We aim to provide consumers, patients, eye care providers, insurers, and optical retailers with cost-effective alternatives to the traditional in-office and optical store visit.”