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Our goal was to find a solution that makes glasses accessible - even to people living in the most remote villages on earth. Which meant we had to think “fresh” - we couldn’t be constrained by old school thinking. We needed to break out of “the way it’s always been done” mentality. We decided to go for "good enough vision", not perfect vision.
We started out with a radically simplified lens concept. We realized that a small variance from perfect vision was actually quite normal for people with glasses. Prescriptions are usually only fully accurate for a short period of time, as visual acuity usually doesn’t remain static over the years. As a matter of fact, people’s eyesight varies throughout the day as eye strain, fatigue and other factors can play a significant role on people’s vision at any given time.
The founder observed this in his own life. Philip had -6 diopters (20/500) for most of his life, until he had corrective laser surgery 15 years ago. However, after about 10 years of enjoying nearly perfect eyesight, his vision started to degrade again. Only as he approached -1 diopters (20/40) did he decide it was time to buy glasses again. But unlike -6 diopters which is a tremendous handicap, -1 diopters was absolutely livable. It didn’t really impact his ability to work or play - it was just life experienced through a “soft filter”.
After the realization that perfect vision is perhaps a luxury rather than a critical need, some basic statistical modeling proved the case that a principle of “good enough” vision could lead to a transformation in the industry. Because even a smartly limited selection of lenses changes lives, helps to streamline the supply chain, reduces the cost of stock, simplifies vision testing. In other words, a small change to the commonly accepted parameters of eye care reduces the barrier for more people to have access to eye care.
After further research and analysis, as well as many discussions with industry experts, it became clear that the implications of the radical lens concept could be substantial, but there was still the issue of frames. Not only does everyone have different eye care requirements, but everyone has different shaped heads and faces. People might have eyes close together or far apart. People may have broad noses or slim noses. People ears also are at different distances from the eyes. This makes fitting glasses to an individual a very challenging task.
Today, anyone selling or distributing glasses needs to take a suitcase of frames along, to match all potential shapes and sizes of heads and faces of their future customers. This is massively inefficient. Those sellers require far more stock than necessary, which is not only costly, but also takes up a relatively large volume and adds weight.
Replacement logistics also becomes much more challenging, as sellers need to order only those sizes and shapes that have been sold, which aside from the increased order complexity, also means the distributors need to have substantial stock on hand and a more sophisticated stock management system in place. Overall, these factors lead to substantial overhead costs which means higher prices for the buyers. And higher prices translates immediately into less accessibility.
With our innovative designs, streamlined processes and the overall philosophy of maximum simplification, we will be able to offer DOT Glasses (frames + prescription lenses) to our end customers for as little as $3/pair.
And if a company, agency, NGO or government is interested in utilizing only our frames in order to make their own efforts cheaper and more efficient, we’ll be happy to provide them at roughly half that price. We want to maximize our impact. Period.
DOT Glasses went to the drawing board to find a solution. Actually, a number of drawing boards. It’s a very hard nut to crack, which is why no one has done it until now. After going through a few industrial designers that didn’t manage to find the target solution, Philip (in his management consulting days) was having dinner with one of his clients - the Managing Director of a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and AKKA Technologies - and mentioned his struggles. Although the company serves Tier 1 industrial clients (including most of the top brands in the auto industry), the MD thought his team could help.
And after a few months of design attempts, there was a eureka moment when it all came together. The world’s first, mass-producible, one-size-fits-all frames (that actually look stylish) were born.
Not only was the new design revolutionary in its form (it snaps together, it’s low cost, it’s lightweight, it’s extremely robust, it packs flat, and it adjusts for pupil distance - a critical variable) but it also incorporated the novel idea of left-right agnostic lenses - which allows a single lens to be used for both a right eye and a left eye, by simply rotating the lens on its horizontal axis. This simple design tweak further reduces the number of lenses required to serve a customer by 50%!