After years of poor eyesight, eye strain, loss in vision and difficulty with contact lenses, Craig Hershoff invented a robot that he hopes will help people with dexterity issues insert and remove their contact lenses.
Hershoff was diagnosed with Fuch’s dystrophy in 2000 and almost lost his sight. He received three corneal transplants in 10 years.
After struggling with his eyesight for years, Hershoff discovered a special type of contact lens called scleral lenses which helped him enormously.
However, when his wife passed away, Hershoff went through a period of anxiety which caused his hands to shake while inserting and removing his contact lenses.
This is when the light bulb went off.
“What happens in a few years if I actually have a tremor and I can’t get these lenses in? I need them to see and I don’t have anyone to help put them in for me,” Hershoff told CNN.
And so, the Cliara Lens Robot was born. Cliara is an acronym for Contact Lens Insertion and Removal Apparatus.
The robot uses suction cups to measure the precise amount of force needed to insert and remove the lenses.
“What is so unique and special about this device is that there is a camera attached so you can see where the lens is going and exactly how it’s being placed,” Hershoff said. “Any type of anxiety or nervousness is gone because you are controlling the device and it’s extremely gentle and safe.”
How does it work?
Firstly, Hershoff says the user should consult with an optometrist to make sure the device is a fit.
“It’s quite simple. The user looks straight down, and if the insertion is in the right eye, the left eye will be focused on a video display,” Hershoff said. “The left eye will see a real-time video of the insertion of the contact lens into the right eye, allowing the user to track the motion of the contact lens at all times.”
“When they are ready, the user commands the device to go up to the eye and very sensitive force sensors detect contact and stop the motion of the device as the contact lens is inserted. After insertion, the device retracts downward,” he said.
The Cliara Lens Robot is currently undergoing clinical trials and Hershoff hopes to have the device ready for commercial use as soon as next year. It will require approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“I think this can really help a lot of people,” Hershoff said. “Anyone with a tremor or a neurological disorder – or anyone who is afraid of touching their eyes.”