NEW YORK—Nine 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 Review of Optometry and Review of Ophthalmology, the Foundation’s Student Innovator of the Year award aims to support optometry’s next generation.

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.

This year’s winners were Jessica Wang, representing UC Berkeley School of Optometry; Gaganjote Uppal, Twinkle Sehgal and Daniel Laughlin, representing the New England College of Optometry; Michelle Veurink, representing Indiana University School of Optometry; Emily Benson and Pearson Miller representing The Ohio State University College of Optometry; and Rena Shilian and Tzvi Friedman, representing SUNY College of Optometry.

UC Berkeley School of Optometry’s Jessica Wang, who was sponsored by VSP Vision Care, was honored for her invention, Pectin-Chitosan Bioplastics, which visualizes a better way to produce contact lens packaging. Both pectin and chitosan are polysaccharides derived from natural sources, are renewable, inexpensive, degradable, non-toxic, and non-polluting. The effect on the environment is two-fold: reducing the amount of plastic used, and repurposing current waste.

New England College of Optometry’s Gaganjote Uppal, Twinkle Sehgal and Daniel Laughlin, who were sponsored by MyEyeDr., were honored for their invention called EyeInstructs, which is a series of digital documents available via Quick Response (QR) codes. Each QR code will be unique to detail a specific patient problem. Patients can use their phone, open the camera app, and scan the QR code to access varying conditions or common problems optometrists look to solve.

Indiana University School of Optometry’s Michelle Veurink, who was sponsored by MyEyeDr., was honored for her invention called EYEpen. The EYEpen’s structure is similar to a multicolor pen, except each barrel of the pen contains a unique eyedrop. The colors on the end correlate to the color coding of ophthalmic bottle caps. The versatility of drops allows it to be personalized for your mode of practice including drug name and concentration on the dropper side.

The Ohio State University College of Optometry’s Emily Benson and Pearson Miller, who were sponsored by VSP Vision Care, were honored for their invention called Buck-Eye Comfort. Their innovation is designed to allow a more comfortable examination experience.

SUNY College of Optometry’s Rena Shilian and Tzvi Friedman, who were sponsored by EssilorLuxottica, were honored for their innovation called DIRECTIFEYE. The product is a removable, spectacle-mounted device for exotropia patients that combines scleral tracking with haptic feedback technology to achieve optimum eye alignment throughout the day as a supplement or replacement of vision therapy.

For more information about sponsoring or participating in the Rick Bay Foundation’s Student Innovator Awards, contact Nancy Ness, VP marketing at