Meet Dr. Ashley Tuan, VP Medical Devices
To me, Mojo represents the intersection of two goals: creating better technology and helping the underserved.Jan 15, 2020
Few folks in technology know more about the human eye than Ashley Tuan. As a postgrad, she studied optometry at The Ohio State University and completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley—two of the most respected institutions in the fields of human vision. Today, as Mojo Vision’s VP of Medical Devices, she provides insight on the challenges met by low-vision patients and their doctors. But her reasons for joining Mojo aren’t just academic or professional—for Ashley, they’ve hit very close to home.
“In his early 40s, my father was diagnosed with a rare retinal degeneration disease,” she says. “Not only did it affect his central vision—his ability to see what was right in front of him—it also affected his peripheral vision and caused night blindness. Because this setback put his career in jeopardy, it also meant that my college plans might be affected as well. When I was able to go, I wanted to pursue a career that could help low vision patients like my father, and that’s how I became interested in optometry.”
Ashley works her unique magic for Mojo Vision at a fascinating point where optometry and high-tech overlap: “To me, Mojo represents the intersection of two goals: creating better technology and helping the underserved.” She describes with excitement one of her favorite tech experiences: mastering the excimer laser, a one-ton, weapons-grade laser used in microprocessor production and eye surgery. “As part of my training, I was taught to take the machine apart into hundreds of pieces, put it all back together, and then align the optics with the laser.” She laughs: “It was really fun!”
In addition to medicine and technology, Ashley’s interest in helping low-vision patients involves a third field: psychology. She sees Mojo Lens as not only helping the visually impaired navigate their world but also live more fulfilling and independent lives. “For anyone with a vision problems, it’s difficult to go out into the world and run basic errands or socialize with friends. They just want to seem ‘normal’—like a person with good vision—and fit in, and it’s hard when they can’t. So a lot of times they’ll just stay home alone, and this can lead to isolation and depression. I really think the Mojo Lens can help them to go out, enjoy the day, and live a fuller life.”
Ashley’s already starting to see her hard work on Mojo Lens pay off. She’s been working with patients at Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an outreach center in the San Francisco Bay Area. She describes a rewarding encounter with one patient: “He can’t see facial expressions, so he’s tried to adapt by reading body language. I had him look through a prototype that simulates features our Mojo Lens may have and asked him, ‘what do you see?’ He said, ‘Oh my gosh, Ashley, you’re smiling!’” Certainly, by helping low vision patients regain some of their sight—and their independence—Ashley Tuan has a lot to smile about.