Design and industry student creates award-winning product to help eye drop users; seeks to replace current poorly-designed bottles

Graduate student Trevor Myers went above and beyond to design an innovative eye dropper bottle, and now seeks to propel his prototype forward to help people facing difficulties with the standard bottles on the market.

Myers’ design seeks to solve these struggles by implementing colors, shapes and a better mold. He used foam for his first prototypes and later used 3D printing to create the prototypes that won him first place for universal design at the Morton Kesten Summit in Los Angeles Oct. 9.

The bottles feature a clothesline-shaped mold so users can pinch the ends to get drops out more easily with less pressure. The prototypes are also color-coded—yellow circles, brown triangles and pink squares—to assist doctors and users in locating the correct drops.

“It was a good attempt at trying to prevent people from using the wrong medication,” Myers said. “So one color might be beta-blockers, one color might be steroids, one might be another medication.”

He added that he took into consideration that people who are color blind would not be able to follow this coding, and so is implementing other designs onto the bottles to adhere to people’s other senses, such as touch.

The Summit, at which Myers’ project won, occurred at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, one of the most renowned summits according to Professor Ricardo Gomes, who teaches in SF State’s design and industry department. Gomes said the design fit perfectly for the Summit’s area of gerontology, the study of aging, as well as the category for which Myers won.

“I was glad that the competition recognized the quality of the work and to me it helped to validate not only the competition, but the significance of universal design that was being promoted by the conference,” Gomes said. “The theme was aging in innovation and certainly his concept was an innovative concept to help support those in aging.”

Myers was shocked when he won the award and said he didn’t know what was going on in the moments leading up to the announcement, as there were only three finalists announced for the category and the winners were read off backwards.

“They read third place and I was like ‘What? I’ve got to be second? That’s awesome,’” Myers said. “Then they cleared up someone else’s project for second place and I was like ‘Holy crap, I won.’”

Myers is currently pursuing his master’s degree in industrial arts at SF State. He previously completed his undergraduate work in conceptual arts when he graduated from the University in 2006.

After taking a break following graduation to pursue other interests, Myers came back to his passion for design and enrolled in Professor Hsiao-Yun Chu’s design class in the spring, one of the last courses required for his degree.

Chu acted as Myers’ faculty adviser on the project and was thrilled when she found out Myers won. Chu said he worked hard to really understand his design and how it would help people.

“I think where Trevor really excelled in this project was that he used a lot of the research techniques that we teach in our department,” Chu said. “In particular, he worked very closely with users. I think that is probably why his final design ended up being so well-rounded.”

For his class project, Myers quickly began researching and talking to people and eventually came to the idea of designing a better eye dropper bottle after hearing of numerous complaints to get the drops out of standard bottles. This, he realized, would be his project for the universal design category.

“That’s one of the key aspects of universal design,” Myers said. “It’s just low physical effort to make a design that can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum amount of fatigue and sustained physical effort.”

Through research and interviews, he learned that elderly people and those who have had cataract and other eye surgery, specifically, had trouble using eye drops because of their poor design. Too small of bottles, difficulty in squeezing them to get the drops out and mistaking various bottles for other medications were the most frequent difficulties users experienced.

One extreme mistake, Myers learned, was that many users had mistaken Super Glue for the eye drops because their bottles looked similar.

Since winning the award for his design, Myers is now looking to figure out the logistics of his prototypes and delve into the final stages of design and packaging. He hopes to release these innovative eye dropper bottles into society to help bring a solution to a problem so many people face.

Whether he stays in San Francisco or travels elsewhere after receiving his master’s degree, Myers said he wants to continue working in the field of design, where his future lies.

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