AAAS and The Lemelson Foundation promote innovators

Science Magazine
30 November 2018

By: Anne Q. Hoy

Program showcases inventors to advance U.S. innovation endeavors, address world challenges

Scientist Don McPherson got his start as an inventor melting glass-making ingredients enriched with rare earth elements to create safety eyewear lenses for surgeons. They help surgeons differentiate patient tissues while performing laser procedures and provide protection from laser beam exposure in the operating theater.

In his free time, McPherson was an ultimate Frisbee player. He used the safety eyewear as sunglasses, a practice he picked up from the surgeons who were so enthused with the eyewear’s ability to enhance visible colors that they started removing them from the operating room and wearing them outside.

At a Frisbee tournament in Santa Cruz, California, McPherson’s friend asked to borrow his sunglasses. Within seconds, his teammate was overcome with amazement: “Dude, I can see the cones,” he said, describing a “fluorescent orange” cone and “bright green” grass, colors seen for the first time by someone with red and green color blindness.

In an instant, an invention was born. He was on to something.

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