Skip to content

Eye Health Hero: Carlos Santiago Hernandez

Carlos Santiago Hernandez

“Despite growing up under challenging conditions, Carlos Santiago, M.S. has become a talented engineer and innovator in the global effort to improve vision for billions of people. As PlenOptika’s first employee and now its Director of Engineering, Carlos made key contributions in the development of the hardware and software for the world’s most accurate handheld autorefractor, QuickSee.

QuickSee’s technology combines excellent engineering, creative innovation, and a steadfast focus on human-centered design to meet the global challenge of low vision. Its core platform technology, the patented PlenOptika Wavefront Refraction Engine, uses wavefront aberrometry to provide eye care professionals and healthcare providers an unprecedented combination of clinical power and usability suited equally for the modern clinic, optical retail store, home visit, and global health mission.

Carlos had been indispensable throughout the entire commercialization roadmap for the QuickSee, making crucial contributions to all aspects ranging from prototyping to design-for-manufacturing to production scale-up. His work with PlenOptika partners in India (Aurolab Trust and Aravind Eye Care System) have led to improvements in both QuickSee performance and production. In 2020, PlenOptika, became a member of the IAPB Valued Supplier program.

As a testament to his impact, peer-reviewed clinical studies evaluating QuickSee have demonstrated that it can be used to prescribe eyeglasses in low-resource setting and can be used by governments, NGOs, and optical retailers to effectively scale-up the community health eye works and vision micro-entrepreneurs to ensure sustainable access to eyeglasses. Since 2018, QuickSee has measured more than 2 million eyes in over 25 countries.

What is especially remarkable about Carlos’ dedication and effort is that he carried out these efforts while pursuing his Masters of Science and now his PhD. For his PhD work, he is working to improve QuickSee’s algorithms by further improving accuracy and lowering the cost of the technology. These efforts will amplify the impact of the technology by broadening its range of uses and increasing its accessibility.

Carlos has emerged as a brilliant engineer with global health contributions that will benefit millions of lives. He is an inspiration to aspiring engineers and global health contributors everywhere and will continue growing as a leader in innovation, tackling the largest problems in eye care and beyond.

“Designing technologies that can globally impact the lives of millions of patients is, for an engineer like myself, gratifying and a great privilege. At PlenOptika, I co-lead our R&D which requires out-of-the-box thinking to develop technologies that are affordable and impactful for LMICs. It has been extremely rewarding to oversee the QuickSee’s commercialization, from a simple prototype to an approved medical device, which has helped improve access to eyeglasses for millions of people in just two years. Having come from humble means myself, I feel blessed to give back through my work to those who lack access to eyeglasses.”

– Carlos Santiago Hernandez