New contact lenses could help color blindness

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A Canadian woman is working on contact lenses that would correct color blindness.

Gabrielle Masone of Colorsmith Labs, Inc. wants to help colorblind people see the world in all its vivid colors. 

“In here is Colorsmith’s very first contact lens prototype,” Masone says of lens floating in the jar in her hands. It’s the latest step for an idea that began with the 28-year-old’s own experience. 

“When I was little, I had an eye condition called amblyopia that made me lose vision in one of my eyes.”

When she started studying chemistry at Dalhousie University, the idea hit – to tackle colorblindness and help the thousands of people whose lives are limited because of it. 

“You know, everyone knows pilot, but like electricians, RCMP officers, there’s all these jobs that you just can’t get if you’re color vision deficient.”

Her plan is to develop contact lenses with a special light filtering coating, allowing wearers to see every color of the rainbow. 

“I mean, not everyone wants to walk around in tinted glasses, you know? I mean we all love Bono, but no one wants to look like him all day.” 

She launched her Halifax-based company, Colorsmith Labs, and has scientists at Saint Mary’s University working on making her dream happen using nanoparticle technology. It hasn’t been tested on people yet, but they’re getting there. 

“So we’ve made the functional nanoparticles, which is super exciting,” says Danielle Tokarz with Saint Mary’s University Chemistry Department. “And we’re just optimizing them, but we are in the testing phase of actually starting to put them in contact lenses.”

And Colorsmith is getting closer, just one major investment away from that goal. 

“We’re gonna need $1.5 million dollars,” Masone says. 

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. 

For an innovator that’s already come this far, the goal of helping everyone see in full color is just on the horizon. 

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