ON A VOSH mission trip in Haiti, I was running the refraction station with my daughter, Kara, when I was first introduced to Smart Vision Labs’ portable autorefractor, the SVOne. It was different from anything I had ever seen or used and was fantastic in the clinical environment in Haiti and, as I would later learn, in my office as well.


The SVOne is a hand-held, smartphone-based autorefraction device. It uses wavefront aberrometry to detect and measure refractive errors through the camera of an iPhone 5s, which comes with the SVOne. Because it is iPhone-based technology, it works just like an iPhone. Specifically, the charging unit, the time needed to charge it and the battery life is all the same as the iPhone 5s.

The SVOne can be used any time you would use a desktop autorefractor, however, because it’s portable, it can also be used in the exam room, at nursing homes, schools, etc.


The eye cup of the device is aligned around the test eye. (There is a mark on the test cup to aid in alignment.) Once it is aligned, the patient is directed to look into the distance. At that point the iPhone screen shows a configuration of dots. Once all the dots are showing in all quadrants, the technician takes the reading, similar to taking a picture on an iPhone. The same is done for the other eye. The entire process takes about 30 to 45 seconds.

Smart Vision Labs’ SVOne


After we received the SVOne, we scheduled training. Done through FaceTime, the training consisted of a presentation on how to use the device, avoid errors and store and print the information. After the presentation, each person was individually taught how to use the SVOne. The entire training session took about 45 minutes, including time for the representatives of SmartVision Labs to answer questions. Representatives are easily reached via email or phone, so any additional questions were handled after the training in subsequent weeks.


The portability of SVOne is helpful, particularly when patients are waiting for full exams and we need to fit in a quick re-check or a contact lens check. After using the device for the better part of the year, I’m starting to become more impressed. Because the instrument allows the patient to focus in the distance with the eye not being tested, the incidence of over accommodation is greatly reduced. I am finding it especially helpful in detecting latent hyperopia.


With the right application, the SVOne can not only improve patient satisfaction and care but also your bottom line. With the SVOne, autorefraction can be performed in the exam chair, which helps to eliminate wait time and improve patient flow. At my practice, I am able to see about 20% more patients per hour. Add that to its other uses, mentioned above, and at $3,950, it easily pays for itself.


We all have a natural tendency to want to keep things as they are — autopilot is a comforting place to be on a stressful day of patients — and the thought of introducing new technology can stir anxiety. But new technology will continue to be introduced into our profession. As opposed to being content with the old, turn off autopilot and embrace the new technological ride. OM

Editor’s note: Consult your local carrier for reimbursement information, including a definition of refraction.

ELIZABETH GROETKEN, O.D., is the owner of Groetken Family Eye Care in LeMars, Iowa. She has been in private practice for 21 years and is active in her community. She has a newly developed passion for helping people in developing countries. Visit to comment.