Corporate Profile: Designs for Vision


Innovation is a tradition at Designs for Vision, Inc. (Designs). The company was founded almost 50 years ago by William Feinbloom, OD, PhD, with the goal of producing task-oriented optical devices. A pioneer in low vision, Dr. Feinbloom founded two schools of optometry, established the specialty of low vision for partially sighted patients and was a forerunner in the field of ergonomics. Several of Designs' current optical designs have their origin in Feinbloom's groundbreaking work. In more recent years Designs has married optical designs and new technologies to maintain the innovative tradition. Designs for Vision proudly designs, engineers and manufactures in the United States.

Early on, Designs for Vision would receive requests from surgeons for a task-oriented device that would allow them to visualize small structures in the wound. Designs began producing what would become surgical telescopes. "We knew our telescopes were helping surgeons achieve better surgical outcomes," says Designs for Vision Partner Richard Feinbloom, "But we really needed someone to help us reach our potential. My father and I recruited Peter Murphy to grow our business."

Peter's background was in heart surgery and he knew the leading heart surgeons on a first-name basis. This gave Designs instant credibility. Murphy designed a marketing program, recruited international distribution and created a national sales force. "From my experience in the operating room, I knew that the Designs for Vision Surgical Telescope could help surgeons perform better surgery. It really was a case of having the right product at the right time," says Peter.

Designs' magnification telescopes took off and in 1973 it introduced the first fiber-optic headlight for surgery. "We wanted to offer a complete visualization solution; magnification and illumination as essential tools," says Peter. A little while later, Murphy and Richard Feinbloom purchased Designs for Vision from Dr. Feinbloom and later added a third partner, Chief Financial Officer Herbert Schwartz.

In the early 1980s, Designs was approached by several leading institutions and opinion leaders to incorporate magnification and illumination into the field of dentistry. Designs listened to their ideas and set about designing dental telescopes and headlights to fit its requirements. Designs quickly outgrew its Manhattan facility and the headquarters was moved to Long Island in 1986.

In the May 2004 issue of Dentaltown Magazine future plans were sketched out. "We followed through with those plans by adding another 15,000 square feet of manufacturing space and updating our manufacturing equipment to allow us to increase production," says Schwartz. The company also expanded its sales force in response to the increased demand for its products.

In the 2004 article, Richard spoke about the company's future product development explaining, "The marriage of micro-circuits, optics and digital technology is the future of Designs for Vision…" This research led to the introduction of the L.E.D. DayLite Headlight a few years later.

"Designs for Vision combined our core optical expertise with the evolving field of light emitting diodes to produce bright white illumination that is evenly distributed across the field," says Ken Bragança, director of engineering. Other LED headlights utilize collimators that suffer loss of intensity resulting in uneven light distribution, Ken explains "Designs for Vision's innovation was to gather the light and focus the light onto the field utilizing our precision optics," Designs for Vision received a United States patent number 7,690,806 covering the use of optics to focus the light produced by an L.E.D.

Additionally, Designs' experience in designing operating room equipment was used to enhance the function of the new L.E.D. headlights. "In certain situations, you have to design for 'what if,'" declares Peter. "We design products with the safety of patients and practitioners in mind." For example, the exclusive Blue Cable technology is designed to reduce exposure to Electro Magnetic Current (EMC). This feature allows the L.E.D. DayLite Headlights to be safely used around other medical equipment.

Redundancy is provided by including two rechargeable lithium-ion power packs to let you use one, while you recharge the other. Peter says , "Redundancy has always been utilized in the critical care environment, our experience in this area demanded that we provide redundancy in our L.E.D. Headlights." To further enhance the product, the power packs allow you to vary the light intensity to your needs. Designs' L.E.D. Headlights can be mounted on dental telescopes, loupes, eyeglasses or can be worn on a lightweight headband.

An exciting development since 2004 was adding Nike frames to its line. "The response to the Nike frames has been overwhelming. Doctors, dentists and hygienists love the look and feel of the Nike collection," says Kelly McKinnon, vice president of sales. "We have recently added Nike Skylon Ace frames and the reception has been fantastic. Everyone loves the style, plus the unique design provides a greater downward angle allowing for good ergonomics."

Ergonomic design has been an integral part of Designs' product offerings and harkens back to founder, Dr. William Feinbloom. He believed each optical instrument should be created as a task-oriented device and should be custom manufactured to each individual. Feinbloom really predated the field of ergonomics and was intuitively building devices to ergonomic criteria several decades before the field existed," says Peter. Designs continues to build upon this foundation and to follow the principles of individual craftsmanship.

According to an ergonomic study (Rucker, et. al., JADA, Vol. 130, July 1999) "When a clinician chooses a surgical magnification system to support optimal intraoral vision, it is important that the working distance, depth of field and optical declination angle of the system correspond to the body size and musculoskeletal needs of the clinician." This same study stated, "A surgical magnification device must accommodate the user's anatomical and physiological needs, not vice versa." Designs is the only manufacturer that accomplishes this recommendation. "By matching the focal length of the telescope to the working distance of the practitioner, we are able to reduce back and neck pain while producing a more comfortable instrument to use," says Richard. "Mass produced systems will force the user to compromise their posture to the focal length of the telescope resulting in fatigue and stress. Some systems will try to correct for lack of customization by reducing the magnification resulting in poorer visualization and increased risk for musculoskeletal injury."

Dr. Feinbloom received a patent in 1966 that included designing a frame with pantoscopic tilt to allow for better downward vision when performing surgical and dental procedures. This frame is Designs' iconic Yeoman Frame. Designs honors the groundbreaking work of Dr. Feinbloom with the introduction of Yeoman frames with a striking new look. These Yeoman frames incorporate the function, durability and pantoscopic tilt of the original Yeoman with a choice of contemporary colors. Company executives advise, "The look is fun, and we are excited to offer our complete line of Dental Telescopes in these frames."

An additional result of Designs' funding of research and development is the newest addition to its product line – the Laser Telescope. The Laser Telescope is light weight and can be built with all of Designs' available magnifications, 2.5x, 3.5x, 4.5x and 6.0x. The company has been involved in laser dentistry from its infancy and recognizes the role enhanced vision plays in its effectiveness. Designs acknowledges the overall increase of use of lasers in dentistry. "When incorporating laser protection within a visual enhancement system, we developed our product to meet the strictest international standards. While, most laser protective eyewear only provides one layer of protection, we learned that the light of the laser is amplified when viewed through a magnification system and requires additional protection," cites Richard Feinbloom. Designs' Laser Telescopes utilize a unique double filter to reduce the laser light twice before it reaches the eye. It has been affirmed by an international testing lab as the way to provide the protection necessary when viewing through magnification. Additionally, Designs has utilized base-eight curved lenses to provide wrap around protection.

Looking forward, Designs for Vision plans to continue research and development into products that combine new technology with its core optical expertise, not only to improve existing products, but revolutionize product segments.

Throughout the company's history, Designs for Vision, Inc., has dominated its markets on reputation and market share with custom-crafted product lines proudly made in the United States.

Designs for Vision looks forward to continuing the tradition of innovation in optical and electo-optical design and manufacturing and invites you to "See the Visible Difference" for yourself with its 45-day, no obligation trial.

For more information, visit www.designsforvision.com or call 800-345-4009.

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