White River Company Helps the Blind
Eyeglasses for the blind? No, it's not
a joke, Chadwick Optical, Inc. manufactures exactly
that: eyeglasses for the legally blind and visually
Founded in 1980, this small White
River Jct., Vermont business operated as a traditional
optical laboratory producing regular corrective
eyeglasses for local Optometrists and Opticians. In the
mid 1980's, strong local competition forced Chadwick to
seek out high volume, low margin government contracts as
a source of revenue.
In the mid 1990's, the
company held the Department of Health and Human Services
eyeglass contracts for all three northern New England
Several factors influenced a radical
change in business strategy, and Chadwick evolved into a
specialty laboratory focusing on optics that other much
larger labs either will not or cannot produce. Over the
past three years, Chadwick has emerged as the only
optical laboratory in the United States specializing in
eyeglass prescriptions for the legally blind.
They also export to Canada and as far as South
Africa and the Pacific Rim, as well as service the
majority of the VA Blind Rehab Centers, Schools of
Optometry, and many state and local Associations for the
Blind and Visually Impaired.
In January 2003,
Chadwick was awarded a National Eye Institute grant for
nearly a half million dollars over two years through the
SBIR program. This is the first known NEI grant to be
awarded to an optical laboratory. The grant will be used
to develop functional low cost lenses for people
suffering from left-side blindness: a condition caused
by head trauma, stroke, or brain tumors.
lenses are based on the design and concept of Dr. Eli
Peli and are being developed with the help of Dr. Peli
and the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard
"We're proud to bring some
national recognition to small Vermont business; our
products could potentially help millions of people lead
healthier, more independent lives", says owner, Karen
Keeney who has over thirty years of experience in the
She was raised by her legally
blind grandfather, and over half of Chadwick's employees
have an immediate family member afflicted with Low
Vision. "We have a great appreciation for the need for
affordable and aesthetic products for people who are
Of the approximately 33,000
Optometrists in the United States, only between 1-2%
routinely treat Low Vision patients and are familiar
with the large scope of vision enhancement products and
services that are available for people with Low Vision.
Chadwick is a member of the Low Vision Council.
This council maintains a hot-line at
800-455-8006 to aid individuals in finding a Low Vision
specialist. Their website, http://www.chadwickoptical.com/,
provides links to local and national professionals who
specialize in Low Vision.
For more information:
Chadwick Optical, Inc.
PO Box 485
Old River Road
White River Jct., VT 05001
800-410-1618 or 802-295-5933