We created the revolutionary SVOne smartphone-based portable autorefractor not just to diagnose vision problems, but also to grow access to vision care for those in need around the world.

The SVOne enhances productivity for optometrists and it provides a way for schools, non-profits, and organizations to do basic diagnosis and referrals in the field. But what happens when there are no vision care professionals anywhere near the communities in need? This is where the SVOne portable autorefractor and a suite of glasses, in the hands of trained local professionals, can truly make a profound difference in the lives of marginalized populations. Together, we’re providing glasses to people with basic refractive errors for the first time, and we’re doing so in a dignified and economical way. This is exactly what our partners at Community Enterprise Solutions (CE Solutions) achieved this past Thursday when they took the SVOne and a backpack full of glasses to a school in Mont-Oganisé, Haiti.

social enterprise
20/20 vision for the first time in her life

Mont-Oganisé is a community of approximately 18,000 people. Apart from shops for food and clothes, there are few services in town or anywhere nearby. On November 20th, CE Solutions local leadership Madalina Bouros and Estela Aragon hopped on the back of motocycles (there are bad roads and no buses) with Elizabeth and Ponpon, two community entrepreneurs from SolKomYo. SolKomYo is a social enterprise created by the CE Solutions team in collaboration with passionate Haitian leaders. The goal of this trip was to use the school as a base to provide eye exams and sell low-cost glasses to the school’s students and other community members.

portable autorefractor
Madalina aligning the SVOne

Over a four-hour period the team conducted 100 visual acuity and SVOne exams for people from four to eighty years old. Based on the readings of the portable autorefractor they were able to provide 21 people with glasses for the first time in their lives. People who walked in the door with 20/120 visual acuity or worse walked out with 20/20 vision. All client data was captured to both follow-up and connect people with other visual health issues to a clinic in Cap Haitien. Ten people bought glasses on the spot for between $2.50 and $5.00 and 11 pairs of glasses were left on “layaway” at the school. We are especially proud of how the SVOne played a fundamental role in improving the lives of Joseph, Judith, Gabriel, Fivel, and Milkins.

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Vision Entrepreneurs Elizabeth and Ponpon hard at work

Joseph, age 16, tested at 20/120 at a distance. When the team met him he was blinking and struggling to reach even that level of visual acuity. He was tested with the SVOne and was diagnosed with a spherical equivalency of -3.50. So the team had him try on a pair of -3.00 glasses and gave him the visual acuity test again. With glasses, he could see 20/20. His mother is coming to pay for and pick up his new pair of glasses this week. The revenue from this purchase will go to SolKomYo to purchase another pair of glasses, cover operational costs, and incentivize the local women entrepreneurs who supported this first campaign.

Judith (age 12), Gabriel (age 14), and Fivel (age 13), arrived in their school uniforms. Their teacher had let them out of class when she heard about the vision exams taking place since she knew they struggled with their eyesight. All three students were having problems seeing the board. After exams with the SVOne, the team discovered they needed  -1.00, -1.50, and -3.00 glasses respectively. Each student tried on their glasses, got to 20/20 visual acuity, and smiled from ear to ear. They chose frames they liked and they’ll be getting their new glasses this week.

Our favorite story is that of Milkins (age 8). His teacher told us about his struggle in the classroom because of his inability to see well. After administering the SVOne exam, we discovered that he needed a pair of -2.50 glasses. As the team was fitting Milkins with glasses, everyone in the school surrounded him to see what was happening, calling him “the miracle.” He could see well for the first time in his life. His teacher had him run home to get his mother, who showed up within 30 minutes and bought Milkins his glasses. Both mother and son left with a new sense of hope for what Milkins could achieve not only in school, but also in life. This is what our portable autorefractor technology can do and what Smart Vision Labs is all about.

social enterprise
Milkins “The Miracle” gets his first pair of glasses