NEW YORK—Three optometry students, each representing a different school of optometry, were recipients of this year’s Student Innovator of the Year Award at the VM Global Leadership Summit. 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. This year’s winners were Christian Crespo, representing SUNY Optometry; Mahsa Katherine Masoudi, representing UC Berkeley; and Dmitriy Richter, representing the New England College of Optometry.

(L to R) Essilor’s Millicent Knight, OD, with SUNY Optometry student Christian Crespo; UC Berkeley’s Mahsa Katherine Masoudi and VSP’s Dr. Gordon Jennings; and NECO student Dmitriy Richter and VisionWeb’s Tom Loveless at the VM Summit.

SUNY Optometry’s Christian Crespo, who was sponsored by Essilor, presented his invention, the first 3D printed retinoscope. While retinoscopes typically retail for over $400, Crespo’s printed version costs just $25 to create. Crespo highlighted the importance of affordable retinoscopes, citing the fact that uncorrected refractive error is the second leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. “Optometrists have a role to play in reducing the incidence of refractive error in blindness,” Crespo said, and 3D printing technology can help achieve that goal.

UC Berkeley’s Mahsa Katherine Masoudi was sponsored VSP Global. Masoudi’s invention, named Verify CL Rx, is a direct prescriber and seller database interface for contact lenses. Her portal simplifies the processes of prescribing and ordering contact lenses, doing away with robocalls, faxes and miscommunications. As she expands her work, Masoudi hopes to assemble a team to develop a working prototype.

VisionWeb sponsored NECO student Dmitriy Richter, who presented OpTranslate, a language learning program for eye doctors. Comprised of a podcast and an app, OpTranslate helps eye doctors complete a comprehensive eye exam in 12 languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Creole, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, Gujarati, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, and Arabic. Over 60.5 million people in the U.S. speak a non-English language at home, with over 22 percent saying they speak English “not well” or “not at all,” according to Richter, making this information vital for eye doctors in the U.S. OpTranslate is available for purchase on Apple and Android devices for $9.99.

— Gwendolyn Plummer, Contributing Editor