Dr. Jeffrey Sonsino has been interested in low vision ever since his years at the New England College of Optometry. Today he practices in the Center for Sight Enhancement (which he founded) at Vanderbilt, where he has developed an innovative set of eyeglasses after carefully studying hundreds of patients with low vision. Recently, this innovative medical device has received a patent and approval for licensing.
Illuminated Low Vision Glasses provide illumination, magnification, and prism correction that improve contrast and letter recognition. They are a godsend for patients who cannot properly read with ordinary reading glasses or contact lenses, and whose condition cannot be corrected with surgery. This often includes people afflicted with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract and other age-related eye diseases.
Dr. Sonsino’s glasses are portable, far less bulky, and easier to use than other low vision reading aids. "They actually look like designer frames, with the wide temples," he explains.
High-powered LED lighting is built into the spectacle frame, illuminating the magnifying lenses. Built-in prism correction improves the reading distance. And unlike current low vision devices on the market, which run at thousands of dollars, Illuminated Low Vision Glasses can be inexpensively mass-produced and do not require a medical prescription.
To take his idea to the next level, Dr. Sonsino approached Vanderbilt’s Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development (OTTED), who helped him get the model built. They showed an entire portfolio of patents to a consulting group. The consultants ranked the glasses the number one idea among the many they were reviewing.
The Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development protects Vanderbilt’s intellectual property assets. The Office licenses technology developed by Vanderbilt inventors and innovators, and assists in the start-up of companies that commercialize Vanderbilt technology. These efforts substantially benefit inventors and the University community...as well as everyone else.
Besides evaluating a new technology’s commercial potential and patentability, the OTTED takes things a step further. The Office registers copyrights, markets and licenses patents, and negotiates agreements related to licensing and material transfer, as well as sponsored research. It distributes royalties and other income to the inventors.
This new technology has the potential to help millions of people afflicted with low vision. Dr. Sonsino believes that if it is low-cost and available over-the-counter, the sales potential is considerable. He may be right: after a story on the glasses appeared in a Vanderbilt Web video, calls came in from patients all over the world.
Dr. Sonsino and his team have lined up production and with the patent secured, they are hoping to move forward. It's been a long process, but well worth the wait.
“We want to have these in as many hands as we possibly can,” he explains. “Patients are why we’re doing this.”