NEW YORK—Six optometry students, each representing a different school of optometry, were recipients of this year’s Student Innovator of the Year Award. Named after Rick Bay, former publisher and president of Jobson’s Review of Optometry and Review of Ophthalmology, the Foundation’s Student Innovator of the Year award aims to support optometry’s next generation.

(Clockwise) Molly Maolee Vang, States Labrum, Jerry Li, Elise Radcliffe, Charlie Bahr, Mariam Labib.

The Rick Bay Foundation Student Innovator Scholarship is awarded to the most outstanding and innovative idea presented by a student at optical colleges and universities throughout the country. The selected student is chosen by their school based on qualities that embody Rick’s commitment to the profession including integrity, compassion, partnership and dedication to the optical industry.

“The Rick Bay Foundation, as part of its commitment to supporting education in the ophthalmic profession, is proud to support along with our generous sponsors the creative innovations of this year’s winners of the Student Innovator Awards,” said Marc Ferrara, consultant to the president of the Jobson Optical Group. “These students always impress the Foundation and the judges at their institutions with their imaginative creativity and pragmatic solutions to challenges in the practice of optometry.”

This year’s winners were, Molly Maolee Vang, representing the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science, UC Berkeley School of Optometry; States Labrum, representing the Southern College of Optometry; Mariam Labib, representing the New England College of Optometry; Jerry Li, representing SUNY College of Optometry; Charlie Bahr, representing the Ohio State University College of Optometry; and Elise Radcliffe, representing the Indiana University School of Optometry.

Molly Maolee Vang, who was sponsored by VSP Vision, was honored for her invention, Path to Kashia, a culturally responsive health initiative for the Hmong community. Path to Kashia is a health intervention that combines both the Hmong culture with evidence-based health education methods. Kashia in Hmong means to understand. Vang said, “The aim of this project is to ensure we understand and are addressing the needs of the Hmong population. Path to Kashia aims to create a health education curriculum that complements the Hmong way of learning, and I want it to start with vision and eye health.”

States Labrum, who was sponsored by ClearVision, was honored for his invention, SterilEyes Case, which is a durable, transportable, sterilizing glasses case. With a touch of a button, UV-C lights effectively kill 99.99 percent of germs, bacteria and viruses on your glasses, sunglasses and readers. SterilEyes Case has the potential to revolutionize the case and eyewear cleaning industry. SterilEyes Case will help everyone live healthier lives by removing germs common on eyewear while protecting glasses. A patent is pending on SterilEyes Case.

Mariam Labib, who was sponsored by MyEyeDr., was honored for her invention, Improove VR/AR, a virtual reality/augmented reality software that is designed to improve the accuracy of the visual system in athletes. Improove is designed to train the quiet eye as well as provide brief central deprivation to improve the performance of the player. Labib said, “I currently have a patent pending on the invention, and although I do not have any images of the current creation, I have a great team working with me and we hope to have a finalized product in the near future.”

Jerry Li, who was sponsored by EssilorLuxottica, was honored for his invention, OrthoptiX, A Novel Prismatic Device to Increase Strabismus Surgery Success. On average, pediatric patients with large angle strabismus will have about 2.5 corrective procedures in their lifetime and doing surgery early does not decrease reoperation rate. OrthoptiX is a novel prismatic device that utilizes a prism-mirror system to enhance binocular vision in pediatric patients with large-angle strabismus. This device effectively reduces the correcting prism’s dioptric power and weight by half.

Charlie Bahr, who was sponsored by VSP Vision, was honored for his invention, VisiFlex, which tackles the long-time problem of the elusive accommodating intraocular lens. Its simple, yet effective design has the potential to effectively restore the eye’s natural ability to shift focus from far to near, even after cataract surgery.

Elise Radcliffe, who was sponsored by MyEyeDr., was honored for her invention, Tracking Tears: The Punctal Plug Monitoring System, a new and innovative punctal plug design. Through computer technology wired into the silicone plug, patients will be able to access an app that details the quality of their tear film in real time, throughout the day.

By delaying the drainage of tears and assessing the quality through a slow-draining system, this punctal plug will track the tear film while also tracking abnormalities and foreign deposits. In addition, the patient will have the ability to print a Tear Film Report to share the results with their doctor.