HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA (CTV/CNN) – A Canadian woman has a dream – and a plan.
She wants to help colorblind people see the world in all its vivid colors.
"In here is Colorsmith's very first contact lens prototype," said Gabrielle Masone, holding a jar containing the contact lens – the result of a lot of hard work and innovation.
The idea for the lens began with the 28-year-old’s own experience.
"When I was little, I had an eye condition called amblyopia, and it made me lose vision in one of my eyes," Masone said.
When Masone started studying chemistry at Dalhousie University, an idea hit her for how to tackle color blindness and help the thousands of people whose lives are limited because of it.
“You know, everyone knows pilot, but like, electricians, RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] officers, there’s all these jobs that you just can’t get if you’re color-vision deficient,” she said.
Her plan is to develop contact lenses with a special light-filtering coating, allowing wearers to see every color of the rainbow.
"Not everyone wants to walk around in tinted glasses, you know?” Masone said. “We all love Bono, but no one wants to look like him all day.”
She launched Colorsmith Labs, Inc., her Halifax-based company, to work on the project. Scientists at Saint Mary’s University are also helping Masone make her dream happen, using nanoparticle technology.
The technology hasn’t been tested on people yet, but the scientists are working on it.
"So, we've made the functional nanoparticles, which is super exciting, and we're just optimizing them, but we are in the testing phase of actually starting to put them in contact lenses," said Danielle Tokarz of the Saint Mary's University Chemistry Department.
Masone said Colorsmith is close to completing the lenses, but the company will need a $1.5 million investment to finish.
That investment would give Masone the funds she needs to contract a contact lens manufacturer and finally make them for people to test in clinical trials.