Halifax inventor creates contact lens to help people overcome colour blindness
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek
Published Friday, March 8, 2019 5:49PM EST
A Maritime innovator has created a new contact lens prototype she says will allow people with colour blindness to see a full spectrum of colour.
In partnership with scientists at Saint Mary's University, Gabrielle Masone, the CEO of Colorsmith Labs Inc., has developed contact lenses with special light-filtering coating and nanoparticle technology.
“I mean, not everyone wants to walk around in tinted glasses, you know?” she told CTV Atlantic. “We all love Bono [U2’s lead singer] but no one wants to look like him every day.”
Masone ultimately wants her lenses to help people with vision problems such as deuteranopia, a commonly inherited form of red-green color blindness.
Her prototype hasn’t been tested with people yet, but her Halifax-based company -- which she founded in 2017 -- hopes to do that soon.
Danielle Tokarz, a professor with Saint Mary's University chemistry department, is helping Masone refine the technology.
“We've made the functional nanoparticles which is super exciting, and we're just optimizing them,” she told CTV Atlantic. “But we are in the testing phase of actually starting to put them in contact lenses.”
The 28-year-old Colorsmith CEO’s own difficulty seeing colour hues actually inspired her career in vision care.
“When I was little, I had an eye condition called amblyopia that made me lose vision in one of my eyes,” Masone said, adding she went on to study chemistry at Dalhousie University.
She explained that thousands of career choices require people to see the full colour spectrum, including pilots, electricians and even RCMP officers.
Masone hopes her invention opens up those career avenues to people with colour blindness.
She said her team is looking for a $1.5 million investment to get them across the finish line. The funding would go towards contacting a manufacturer to make the lenses for human clinical trials.