An innovative device which will improve the quality of life of thousands of people with double vision has received £20,000 after winning a top award. Social Enterprise UK member the Beacon Centre and the University of Wolverhampton joined forces to offer the 2017 Beacon Visionary Challenge Award.
The winner of the award has been announced as the Lens Slip Occluder, which was developed by Burton-on-Trent company DHC Informatics Ltd. The revolutionary Lens Slip Occluder has been developed primarily to treat and alleviate diplopia (double vision) but it can also be effective in the treatment of visual disturbance caused by such conditions as multiple sclerosis, stroke, head injury, cataracts and glaucoma. The Lens Slip Occluder is an optical device worn over a pair of glasses to improve vision when reading books, magazines or newspapers, watching television or using a computer.
The award consists of £10,000 social investment from Beacon and £10,000 worth of consultancy support from the University of Wolverhampton. The winner was chosen from a shortlist by a panel of leading tech entrepreneurs and sight loss experts, chaired by Dr Stephen Fear, the ‘phonebox millionaire’.
DHC Informatics’ Director Rebecca Harrison said: “Diplopia is one of the most common vision disorder in the UK today. There are over 100,000 MS sufferers and over 150,000 people suffer a stroke each year, more than half of whom will experience problems with diplopia or blurred vision. “Occlusion is one of the first line treatments recommended by the RNIB, NHS and MS Society.”
DHC Informatics was supported through development of the new product concept by the Innovative Product Support Service (iPSS), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is available to small companies across the West Midlands Region. Professor Andrew Pollard, iPSS Project Director at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We were delighted to see the design work carried out by the iPSS team lead on to such great recognition for DHC, and it demonstrates once again that there is always room for innovation.”
In making the award, Arwyn Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Beacon, said: “We were particularly impressed with the presentation from DHC and the fact that their new product can quickly get to market and benefit people with double vision disorders. Beacon is delighted that the competition prize will be used to help the business move forward and develop new products. Our investment has inspired an innovative sensory solution that delivers on the aims of the charity.” Rebecca Harrison of DHC Informatics added: “The design help we received from iPSS was fantastic and we are delighted that we will now be able to carry out further research and development at the University of Wolverhampton having won the Beacon prize.”
About Beacon Centre
Beacon Centre is a well-established West Midlands social enterprise that makes a visible difference to people living with sight loss. It provides a range of services including activity programmes life skills, digital and IT training, health and wellbeing, low vison, residential services, and domiciliary care in the community services.
At Sedgley there is also an Opticians that is open to all to attend, with profits being re-invested back to support the charity which is the first accredited social enterprise opticians in the country.