Fast-Switching, High-Contrast, Electrochromic Sunwear for Persons with Age-Relate

Award Information
Department of Health and Human Services
Award Year:
Phase I
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Small Business Information
9 Red Coach Ln, Holmdel, NJ, -
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 (732) 739-1122
Business Contact
Phone: (732) 739-1122
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) afflicts up to 40% of the aging population [1-30]. Studies [6-30] show that gt 70% of the visually impaired population in the US is over 60, and within this, ARMD is the largest cause of impairment. A primary characteristic of ARMD is inability to adapt between light and dark. People with ARMD experience a significant loss in functional vision when going from indoors to outdoors, affecting their ability to function [6-25]. With a solution, the quality of life and well-being of the 40% of older adults who are afflicted with ARMD would drastically improve, allowing them to live more independently and safely. There is currently no medical/surgical treatment for ARMD [1-5]. Current, highly inadequate remedies [6-8] are: (1) Cumbersome, multiple layers of sunglasses, put on/taken off rapidly. (2) Very slow-switching (2 - 5 minutes) photochromic lenses which need UV light for activation. Light-adapting remedies for persons with ARMD wouldalso assist persons with other, age-related diseases, e.g. diabetic retinopathy and corneal dystrophy [8, 25]. In earlier work [31-34], our group carried out an extensive study with age gt 60 veterans having ARMD at the Atlanta VA Center, showing they could benefit highly from fast-darkening (lt 5 s) electrochromic (EC) glasses, when compared to multiple sunglass layers or photochromics. The liquid crystals (LCs) glasses used in this study however had serious problems, e.g. just 24%/3% light/dark range, heavy weight, incompatibility with prescription glasses, high cost. Now in very recent (2009), unrelated work [35-44], in a breakthrough over our prior gen (lt 2008) technology, we have also developed ECs based on conducting polymers (CPs) that have: (1) Typical light/dark contrast of 68.5%/12%, dialable to any value between these extremes. (2) Switching times instantaneous to 5 s. (3) Cyclability gt 10 5 cycles light/dark/light. (4) Excellent optical memory. (5) Thin (lt 20 mils), flexible, durable, solid-state. Affixable to virtually any surface, e.g. prescription/safety glasses. (6) Very low power (15 micro-W/cm2), voltage ( 1.2 VDC). (7) V. inexpensive, est. lt 80/pair. With a small enhancement in the light/dark contrast, use of a battery-powered Controller with photocell input, and extensive ARMD subject testing, these CP-based ECs would be a viable solution to aged ARMD persons. The proposed work will: (1) Fabricate devices with optimized, targeted light/dark contrast of 72%/8%. (2) Fabricate, testinexpensive, battery-powered Controller based on microprocessor, photocell-input, placed on glasses or behind ear, to automatically control darkness/color. (3) Carry out detailed mobility, visual acuity, other tests with ARMD veterans recruited from Atlanta VA Center. (4) Carry out preliminary cost-of-manufacturing survey. The final product would be either thin (lt 5 mil) laminates applied over existing glasses, or safety glasses worn over these or naked eyes, or both, with microprocessor-based, ambient-light-controlled Controller, with a licensed manufacture business model. This firm holds patents for one of the two CPs [39] and is filing others. Pro- posed work is a joint effort between this firm and the Atlanta VA Rehabilitation RandD Ctr. for Aging Vision Loss. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The product proposed will finally provide a remedy for persons with ARMD, who are up to 40% of the aging population and for whom there is no solution at present [1-30], while also assisting persons with other, age-related ocular diseases, e.g. diabetic retinopathy and corneal dystrophy. Other potential applications of such unique, high-performance CP-based electrochromics are in the industrial safety, recreational eyewear, (e.g. ski, sports), automobile windshield and building windows markets, much larger markets which would drastically lower costs for persons with ARMD. Two, specific potential commercial partners have been identified for production.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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