Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Liane Clamen, the founder and CEO of Adaptilens. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, Liane! It’s great to have you on the blog today to talk about all things Adaptilens. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing?
Liane: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our mission at Adaptilens is to revolutionize the way vision is corrected by developing an artificial lens that imitates the natural, human lens. Like the human lens, Adaptilens will be soft and flexible so the muscles of accommodation inside the eye can change the shape of the lens, thereby changing its power. We call this ability of the eye to increase its power so we can see clearly at near distances “accommodation.” With Adaptilens, an Accommodative Intraocular Lens, people will be able to see clearly at near, intermediate, and distance without glasses or contact lenses.
Spiffy: Wow, tell me more! What motivated you to do it?
Liane: As an eye surgeon, I’ve performed many cataract surgeries, removing the natural lens that becomes stiff and cloudy with age (the cataract). The standard of care is to replace the cataract with a monofocal lens, allowing us to correct the patient’s vision for distance or near, but not both. I didn’t like telling my patients that they would need surgery and then, after surgery, they would be dependent on glasses for the rest of their lives. I wanted to come up with a way to completely fix my patients’ vision problems. That’s why we’re developing a lens that will allow people to see clearly without eyeglasses or contacts.
Spiffy: That’s wonderful! I’d love for you to elaborate on how you and Adaptilens are working towards a more equitable world.
Liane: Adaptilens is working towards two UN SDGs: improving health and creating a more equitable world. According to the World Health Organization, the top two causes of reversible blindness are cataracts (94 million people) and unaddressed refractive error (88.4 million people). Unaddressed refractive error means that people have not received the glasses they need in order to see clearly. Adaptilens is uniquely situated to solve both of these causes of reversible blindness.
Spiffy: Brilliant. Is there a recent company milestone or initiative that you’d like to share with our readers?
Liane: To prove that our lens is effective, we perform proof of concept tests on our prototypes. We tested four different prototypes in an instrument that was specifically designed to imitate accommodation inside the eye. Our goal was to show 5 Diopters of accommodation. Of the four lenses we tested, one showed 20 Diopters of accommodation—even more than our goal of 5 Diopters. Now we’re improving our lens prototypes to achieve repeatable, reproducible results with our newer designs.
Spiffy: Please share an experience where you faced failure and didn't give up. Is there anything you learned from it?
Liane: Well, Spiffy, I came up with the idea for Adaptilens after I helped write a chapter about intraocular lenses, and realized that nobody had made a lens that imitated the natural lens. Armed with a thorough understanding of the lenses that were being used in surgery, I came up with an idea for a new lens that would imitate nature. I spoke to many investors, but nobody was willing to invest their money in Adaptilens. But I persisted, and finally found investors. One important lesson I learned is that I needed to build a strong team of hard-working, honest, motivated people like myself to help create Adaptilens. I also learned that it’s important to surround myself with people who believe in me and my vision.
Spiffy: You’re absolutely right! I also believe you can learn from anyone and I love lessons from kids, peers, or even pets! What have you learned unexpectedly recently, whether from your team or beyond?
Liane: I have four amazing children: two girls and two boys. Of all the things I've accomplished in my life, I am most proud of my amazing children. This fall, my 11 year old started 6th grade in a new school. He came home feeling down on himself. I had to convince him that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you focus on your weaknesses, you’ll be down in the dumps. You need to move past the weaknesses, and constantly remind yourself that you are amazing! Everyone is unique and everyone has some good qualities. Nobody is perfect. Stay focused on your positive traits, and you'll be much happier.
Spiffy: Wise words, Liane. Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go today?
Liane: As I’ve shared with you, I have four children. When they were young, they were incredibly creative. From one Lego set, for example, they could make all types of different houses, cars, spaceships, anything at all! I try to encourage my kids to stay creative. It’s that creativity that allows people to invent and it’s the inventors who have moved society forward. We wouldn’t have cars, airplanes, or iphones without creative people who were willing to stand out and take a chance on something new.
Spiffy: It’s been an honor speaking with you today, Liane! Thanks for your time and your words.
Liane Clamen, MD is founder and CEO of Adaptilens. Dr. Clamen received both her BA and her MD from Harvard University. She completed her medical internship and ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. Dr. Clamen is an entrepreneur with prior product inventions in the field of ophthalmology. (Nominated by Thara Pillai at Launch Lab X Geo. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 6, 2022)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.