UC student develops revolutionary polarised contact lenses

 

A young Kiwi inventor has done it again. University of Canterbury student Logan Williams has invented 3D-printed polarised contact lenses providing sufferers of photosensitive epilepsy – where flashing light can cause epileptic seizure – with a tool to overcome the threat of the condition.

Mr Williams, age 22, says he was inspired by the lack of non-medical prevention available to address the condition with the special lenses he calls Polar Optics. 

“I was inspired to develop Polar Optics by one of my close friends who suffers from photosensitive epilepsy. The only treatment that gives sufferers some form of protection against the threat of a fit is medication, which can restrict diet, lifestyle and have other adverse potential side effects,” he says.

“Polar Optics mitigates environmental threats, enabling sufferers to go about their daily lives without fear of a seizure. It has the potential to really make a difference to people all over the world with photosensitive epilepsy, and will also help anyone who suffers from headaches and migraines from bright light.”

Environmental threats include strobe lighting, but also walking past a line of trees which cast shadows with a flashing effect. The polarised contact lenses help through a process of refraction, Mr Williams says.

“Polar Optics work by refracting the light entering the sufferer’s vision and dampening the intensity of the light. This departmentalises the light wave, which has far less strength on the entire neurological system and gives wearers the vital seconds to close their eyes or move away from the threat. It also provides polarisation for the full spectrum of vision and – the most vulnerable – peripheral vision.”

In his fourth year of a Master of Science degree in Applied Psychology at UC, Mr Williams is in the process of commercialising Polar Optics with the aim of making the lenses accessible and affordable for those affected by photosensitive epilepsy.

“I hope to transition the innovative technology of Polar Optics into a viable New Zealand company,” Mr Williams says.

“I am currently working with a manufacturing company in Europe to develop a wearable prototype for Polar Optics. This is a novel, unique application of Polar Optics unlike anything currently implemented around the globe.”

Mr Williams has already successfully launched a company based on one of his developments, Biome, which manufactures biodegradable products such as plastic and fabrics from the invasive pest-algae Didymo. That idea earned Mr Williams first place and a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition and was a finalist at the New Zealand Top Student Award 2017.

He also received First Place and People’s Choice through the UCE Summer Startup Programme and a UC Innovators’ Summer Startup Scholarship through the UC Centre of Entrepreneurship to develop his company.

UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Incubator Manager Michelle Panzer says the programme was established specifically to help students like Mr Williams realise the commercial potential of their innovations.

“What gives Logan’s ventures real potential is the fact that they solve very real problems,” says Ms Panzer. 

“The UCE Summer Startup Programme provides students with an opportunity to focus their full attention on a business or social venture, with the support of a $5,000 scholarship. The 10-week programme is structured in a way that students are equipped with the necessary skillset to start, grow and develop their venture into a viable business or social enterprise. Speakers, mentors and industry experts play an important role in the programme, guiding and supporting these students along their entrepreneurial journey.”

 

- University of Canterbury