Based in Berkeley, California, McPherson, who has a PhD in glass science from Alfred University, originally specialized in creating eyewear for doctors to use as protection during laser surgery. Rare earth iron embedded in the glasses absorbed a significant amount of light, enabling surgeons to not only stay safe, but also clearly differentiate between blood and tissue during procedures.
In fact, surgeons loved the glasses so much, they began disappearing from operating rooms. This was the first indication that they could be used outside the hospital. McPherson, too, began casually wearing them, as sunglasses. “Wearing them makes all colors look incredibly saturated,” he says. “It makes the world look really bright.”
One afternoon in 2005, Don McPherson was playing ultimate Frisbee in Santa Cruz. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses, when his friend, Michael Angell, admiring his eyewear, asked to borrow them. When he put the glasses on, he was stunned by what he saw.
McPherson recalls Angell saying, with surprise, “I can see the cones,” referring to a set of orange traffic cones nearby. What made this a startling observation was that Angell had been colorblind his whole life. The sunglasses, which McPherson, a materials scientist, had engineered, actually allowed him to see the orange hue for the first time, and distinguish that color from the surrounding grass and concrete.
Until that time, McPherson realized they could serve a broader purpose and help those who are colorblind. After making this discovery, he spent time researching colorblindness, a condition he knew very little about, and ultimately applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health to begin conducting clinical trials.
Since then, McPherson and two colleagues, Tony Dykes and Andrew Schmeder, founded EnChroma Labs, a company dedicated to developing everyday sunglasses for the 300 million people in the world with color vision deficiency. They've been selling glasses, with sporty and trendy, Ray-Ban-like frames, since December 2012, at a price point ranging from $325 to $450. The EnChroma team has refined the product significantly such as changing the lenses from glass to a much more consumer-friendly polycarbonate in December 2014.
According to smithsonianmag.com