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Who needs eye doctors? Your smartphone can do that for you

Smartphone eyetest

Smartphones: is there anything they can't do? Phone, camera, music player, portable console, the list of jobs your mobile can take on is an impressive one, and you can now add optometrist to the list too.

Well, not quite - but your smartphone can be used to gather the data your optometrist needs to work out if you need glasses or not. It's the brainchild of US startup Blink, which has just launched its service in New York.

For US$75 (about £50, AU$97) a Blink "visioneer" will call around to your house with a VR headset-style bit of kit and a customised smartphone. After a few scans, the results are sent back to a qualified optometrist for analysis.

Sight for sore eyes

The idea is that both you and the optometrists can save time by having the test in the comfort of your own home. You don't have to go out in the rain and the eye specialist can work through patients very quickly on a remote basis once the Blink assistants have gathered the data.

If you do need to start donning spectacles or contacts, a prescription lands in your inbox and you can take it from there. The technology has been developed by MIT Media Labs and is backed by a company called EyeNetra, on a mission to "bring vision to the masses".

It's not just for New Yorkers, either - this kind of remotely prescribed healthcare could eventually make a big difference to those in rural areas or developing nations without easy access to an optometrist.