By Kelly Phillips, staff writer
For those with diminishing vision or Baby Boomers contending with middle-age vision problems, Joanie Taylor came up with a solution to bring the cell phone display back into focus.
The Phone Monocle is a rubber sleeve with a magnifying lens inserted into it. It stretches over most cell phones and provides magnification up to 250 percent, Taylor said.
Taylor, a certified ophthalmic surgical assistant, came up with the idea a few years back after she started hearing a refrain from her boyfriend and others in the over-40 set who "start pulling stuff away from them" because they lose up-close vision.
"They all complain that they can't use the cell phones," Taylor said.
The condition they are dealing with is presbyopia, the inability to clearly see close-up due to a loss of elasticity in the aging lens.
She began taking apart cell phones and doing measurements. She then enlisted the help of her boyfriend, Frank Pineda. They are now partners in Magnific's, which is selling the Phone Monocle worldwide. It is patented in the U.S. and Germany.
For people with seriously low vision due to conditions such as macular degeneration, the device can be pulled away from the phone for even greater magnification, Taylor said.
The device is made from a rubber material "like a baby pacifier" and comes in various colors. It also works on home phones that have a display.
"The people who are designing these phones are young," Taylor said. "They don't realize when you turn 40 you don't see anything up close."
The Phone Monocle was recognized in the top 100 at the Invent Now America competition at Universal Studios Florida in March. That earned the device a mention in Popular Mechanics magazine. Attention has also come from Good Morning America and other media.
Taylor formerly worked for an ophthalmologist as a surgical assistant, but she now devotes herself full-time to Magnific's.
She said she previously "had some really good ideas" for inventions, but was too busy with her children to pursue them. This time, a friend encouraged her to stick with the invention. It's paying off, with orders from as far away as Greece, American Samoa and Russia.
While Taylor's partner, Pineda, and other Magnific's employees use the Phone Monocle, Taylor pointed out that she hasn't reached 40 and therefore doesn't yet need her invention.
For more information on the product, visit the Phone Monocle Web site.
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