There are many things in life that you may not enjoy doing, but you do it out of necessity: Eat green vegetables, keep your house clean, be nice to your best friend’s weird new beau. Near the top of that list? Making the annual pilgrimage to your doctor’s office.
While services like ZocDoc have made booking appointments easy, it can still be hard to find time to make the meeting. That’s why Blink, a new vision testing service, will bring the tools to your doorstep to get your glasses prescription without leaving your home or office.
Today, Blink is launching in New York City to let you make on-demand appointments for a vision exam. A “visioneer” will arrive with a kit developed by the MIT Media Lab so that you can take the test from anywhere.
The test is divided into three parts: First, you go through the consultation with the visioneer to discuss your current vision problems, if any, and other known health conditions.
Then, the visioneer attaches a smartphone to a binocular-like device and have you run through a series of digital “games.” In my appointment, the goal of the game is to align two sides of a balloon to make one cohesive image.
Lastly, you run through the standard vision test that requires reading the smallest alphabets you can off a chart.
While the test is not as comprehensive as a typical ophthalmic exam (Greg, my visioneer, made it clear he is not an optometrist), it is designed to quickly analyze your vision. The information gathered from the exam is sent to an actual optometrist, however, to get you an official eyeglass prescription.
I already wear glasses and contact lens, but my last vision test was about a year and a half ago, so the appointment helped to clarify that my vision hadn’t worsened since.
Blink hopes that by making vision exams more accessible, it can provide healthcare in an affordable and easy-going manner. A single in-home/office test costs $75 without insurance, and multiple tests enjoy economy of scale.
Since the tools it uses to measure your vision are also compacted into a travel kit, the company has been able to offer exams to low-income communities to aid those who need glasses, but can’t afford it.
“There’s a lot of Americans struggling right here in NYC, whether it’s the homeless population or low income school children. We believe in helping our own communities because we care,” Blink co-founder David Schafran says. “So whether it’s people who just can’t find time for a vision test or can’t afford it, we make sure everyone can get the care they need.
“As of today, we purchase glasses at retail prices from Zenni Optical and distribute them for free.” Zenni Optical glasses start at $7, so Blink hopes to partner up with more sponsors to help provide glasses to those in need.
That’s not the only potential plan for partnership, Greg the visioneer tells me. Since there is already a Blink franchise in New York City (a boutique gym brand), it hopes to team up with nearby businesses to offer vision tests wherever people spend the most time.
“Maybe you can get your eyes checked while you’re there to work out,” Greg says with a laugh. “We’ll call it Blink Twice.”
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