Student Innovator of the Year Expands as Seven Students Represent Four Schools

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Seven students, representing four schools of optometry were recognized as this year’s Student Innovator of the Year Award recipients. Named after Rick Bay, former publisher and president of Review of Optometry and Review of Ophthalmology, the Foundation’s Student Innovator of the Year award aims to support optometry’s next generation.

“It was an experiment by Jobson, the Rick Bay Foundation, Essilor and the SUNY College of Optometry, that encouraged students at SUNY to contribute innovative ideas, and we picked a winner who had the opportunity to present their idea on stage,” stated Marc Ferrara, CEO Information Services Division, Jobson Medical Information. “Out of that, we had numerous other companies say that they would like to support the program and today, we have four schools of optometry to be represented, thanks to our four sponsors: Essilor, Luxottica, VisionWeb and VSP Global.”

Steven Shepard from the University of California Berkeley School of Optometry, was sponsored by VSP Global; Graham Stetson of the New England College of Optometry was sponsored by VisionWeb; sponsored by Luxottica were Southern California College of Optometry’s Andrew Sprenkel, Matthew Huu Duc Tran and Andrew Lee; while Elkie Fung and Tara Mahvelati from the SUNY College of Optometry were sponsored by Essilor.

The session was opened up by Shepard who presented his invention, Lumi. Because millions of people are at risk for losing their eyesight due to the high infection risk of using dirty contact lenses, Lumi is Shepard’s solution to dirty contact lens wear. Lumi is an intelligent contact lens case which empowers the average person lab-level sanitization of contact lenses.

Shepard said, “It is engineered with the novel integration of thermal, ultrasound and ultraviolet sanitation techniques, empowering the average person to research grade sanitation, using no more power than the cellphones we all use.” With Lumi, Shepard aims to make sanitizing contact lenses easy, effective and accessible.

Following Shepard was Stetson who presented The iHeat Eye Mask. Stetson has spent the past two years focusing his research on warm compress devices—how they perform today and how they could be better. His research led him to create The iHeat Eye Mask, a patent-pending, “safer, simpler more efficacious,” warm compress therapy for Meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye.

“Its flexible design allows for a wide range of accessories and consumables, including data acquisition so that providers can track compliance with prescribed treatment regimen. This technology can also be readily adapted to treat other ocular and non-ocular conditions both in the office and at home,” Stetson said.

Sprenkel, Huu Duc Tran and Lee, presented Opt-In, a mobile intuitive solution that fixes everyday practicing optometrist’s problems such as finding cover doctors. Even though Opt-In has its roots in optometry, it can venture out into the medical and dentistry fields, among others. “What we’re trying to do is spread our message and we are looking for potential investors and partners—anyone who can help us get through this process quicker,” stated Sprenkel.

Presenting Can-See were Fung and Mahvelati. Can-See is a customizable, automated eye chart that is, “portable, adaptable and limitless,” they said. Can-See aims to free ECPs from the restrictions of the manual wheel of eye charts and can be taken anywhere.

Fung and Mahvelati’s vision is to integrate a bigger projector and an app, making refraction and binocularity testing as simple and as efficient as possible. Can-See also contains features that are rarely, if ever, used for testing, such as isolating, crowding bars and contrasting. Fung and Mahvelati also added a language component so ECPs can provide basic instructions in multiple languages based on the chart they selected.

(L to R) The honorees and their sponsors included Berkeley School of Optometry’s Steven Shepard; VSP Global’s Masoud Nafey, OD, FAAO; New England College of Optometry’s Graham Stetson; VisionWeb’s Raki Shah; Southern California College of Optometry’s Andrew Pablo Lee, Andrew Sprenkel and Matthew Huu Duc Tran; SUNY’s Elkie Fung and Tara Mahvelati; Essilor’s Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO; and Luxottica Wholesale’s Ludovic Ladreyt.