Is there anything smartphones can't do? Besides have taken over our lives as communication and entertainment hubs, a growing use of the devices is in eye healthcare. Guided by a socially-inclusive ethos, New York-based Smart Vision Labs has created a low-cost, portable iPhone-based gadget to help people in developing countries to diagnose vision problems.

The device is called the SVOne and it's an autorefractor/aberrator that can be added on to an iPhone, transforming the phone into a portable lab. It's similar to other socially-oriented solutions such as Peek and EyeGo.

SVOne uses a sensor technology called Wavefront, which diagnoses refractive errors. The software algorithm analyzes the Wavefront data and converts it into lens prescriptions. The data is sent to the cloud from where it can be accessed and reviewed any time by healthcare providers, remote technicians and patients.

A lasting battery is another feature that enhances the portability of the system, as one charge will cover 56 hours of continuous refracting. This makes it ideal for doctors working in less than ideal settings, where costly vision testing equipment is out of reach. SVOne has been successfully field-tested in Haiti and Guatemala.

Founded in 2013, the company’s technology dates back more than 10 years, when founders Yaopeng Zhou and Marc Albanese started to develop an advanced scanning laser ophthalmoscope in a joint program between the Schepens Eye Research Institute and Boston University. Two years ago, when the duo went back to Boston University to develop an ophthalmoscope to help assess damage to the retina caused by diabetes, SVOne started to shape up as a product.

The World Health Organization says there are around 250 million people suffering from refractive error-related blindness in the developing world, where only 16 percent of children aged six and 31 percent of children aged 16 have access to proper eye tests. The lack of a proper diagnosis can impact on a person's productivity and, consequently, living standards.

Smart Vision Labs recently showed its product at the International Vision Expo & Conference in Las Vegas between Sept. 17 and 19. The company allows visitors to its website, linked to below, to receive alerts about the product’s availability.

Smart Vision Labs' founders talk about SVOne in the video below.

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