Most of us spend an average of 50 hours a week staring at screens. That’s more than we sleep. Research shows blue light emitted from LED lighting and digital devices affects our eyes, sleep and wider health.
Dhruvin Patel studied optometry and graduated in 2015 from the School of Health and Sciences. As a City student, he worked at Vision Express on the weekends. They had released blue light blocking lenses for people who wore glasses.
At this point, research showed lens coatings could be used for people that wear glasses to alleviate eye strain. But what about people that didn’t need glasses?
Dhruvin started exploring the idea of creating a product anyone could benefit from. At this point in 2013, smartphones were really taking off and he was aware screens were only getting bigger and brighter.
For his dissertation, Dhruvin explored how blue light affects physiology and circadian rhythms. He found a large body of evidence to support the harmful effects of blue light emitted from LED screens.
In 2013, Dhruvin heard about CitySpark, a competition run by the Cass Business School. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to turn his idea into action. He was very much at the conceptual stage – he knew he wanted to create a plastic film to absorb harmful blue light.
For stage 1 of the competition, Dhruvin competed against 30 other budding entrepreneurs. He pitched the idea to staff and students, then they had the chance to vote for the idea they thought had the most potential. To his delight, Dhruvin won, and he used the cash prize to take his idea to the next level.
To develop the prototype, Dhruvin worked with City academics in the optometry department. He was able to run ideas past them and discuss what materials would be suitable. Initially, the filters were made from plastic. Now they’re glass to help protect devices, as well as eyes.
In stage two of the competition, Dhruvin was up against 10 other businesses with a product ready to launch. It was up to entrepreneurs from Tech City to decide which ideas they thought were viable. Dhruvin was one of three winners awarded a cash prize to get their business off the ground.
After winning CitySpark, Dhruvin completed an accelerator programme run by the University. This gave him the chance to explore the basics of running a business, from carrying out research and development, to managing marketing and finance.
In 2015, Dhruvin launched Ocushield. Using the company’s products, consumers can beat eye strain and fall asleep faster. At this point, they only sold products for a handful of devices. Now Ocushield have a whole range of products:
- Screen protectors – for smartphones, tablets, laptops and monitors.
- Eye wear – blue light blocking glasses to help anyone protect their eyes.
- Oculamp – a portable and lightweight blue blocking light. Consumers can switch between neutral white, cool white and warm white for different times of the day.
Ocushield has featured in Forbes, The Guardian and The Telegraph. Employees at large organisations such as the NHS, JP Morgan, Facebook and Barclays are using the products. Consumers can also buy them from major retailers including Amazon and Urban Outfitters.
Future plans and benefits
Thanks to support from City, Ocushield has been trading for over four years and continues to grow. The products are used around the world and sold in over 70 countries.
The focus now is turning Ocushield into an international company. Dhruvin wants them to be the leader in digital eye health awareness and get Ocushield products into every household.
Ocushield will continue to promote recent launches including Oculamp, a low blue light desk lamp. They also want to develop their relationship with businesses and make them aware of products like their privacy filters for maintaining privacy in the workplace.
Dhruvin plans to exhibit in Las Vegas at CES 2020, a convention organised by the Consumer Technology Association. It’s the largest consumer electronics trade show, and he hopes it will drive more business in the USA.
So far, the products protect more than 100,000 eyes. But it seems like this is only the beginning of something big for Ocushield.