Student's visionary design takes top honors

Trevor Myers has not had cataract surgery, but knowing someone who went through the procedure allowed him to see very clearly that there are problems with something many people use every day: eye droppers.

Photo of Trevor Myers

SF State graduate student Trevor Myers took home first place in the Creative Arts category at the annual CSU Student Research Competition in early May. Photo: Trevor Myers

"Patients can't identify which eye dropper is which, or forget which one to take at which time," said Myers, a graduate student in SF State's master of arts in industrial arts program. "Then there are the problems with the bottle itself. Many patients are older and can't get the cap off. The bottles are hard to squeeze, especially for people who have arthritis or nerve damage due to diabetes."

His subsequent redesign of the eye dropper bottle is aimed at making it universally accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities, and it recently won him first place in the Creative Arts category at the annual CSU Student Research Competition, held earlier this month in San Bernardino.

Myers became interested in this project when he tried to solve a problem that has vexed consumers for years: plastic shell or "clam shell" packaging, in which an item is sealed between two pieces of plastic that are melted together and frustratingly difficult to open. He began talking to people of various ages about the packaging, which cemented the importance of "universal design," or designing a product so that it is useful to as many people as possible.

When he saw how many eye drops his friend recovering from cataract surgery needed to take -- and learned that the number of people who need the surgery is in the millions, many of them elderly -- he decided to tackle the eye dropper.

To solve the problem of misidentification, Myers used a bold, easy-to-read font and created a shape- and color-based system to help patients differentiate between the multiple medications they are often prescribed. Those tweaks helped make his design more accessible to those with vision problems or who are colorblind. To solve the bottle problem, he designed a new, more ergonomic dispenser that is easier to grip and looks less like other household items such as super glue (lessening the risk of disastrous mix-ups). He has created prototypes of the model and is hoping to license the design so it can be produced and used widely.

Photo of eye dropper prototypes

Myers' eye dropper prototype is designed to be accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities. Photo: Trevor Myers

"I'm trying to design the bottle itself so that it can be used by everyone but the cost will not be increased," he said.

Myers' first-place award at the CSU competition is just the latest honor for his eye droppers. He won first place for universal design in a student competition in Los Angeles last fall and was also a finalist at the Spark:Concept awards. After he graduates on May 22, he hopes to continue developing design concepts and licensing them to companies for manufacturing.

SF State's Design and Industry department has also had first-place finishers at the CSU Student Research Competition in 2013, 2007 and 2006. Last year, students from the University took home three second-place awards.

To learn more about SF State's Department of Design and Industry and master of arts in industrial arts program, visit

-- Jonathan Morales