Pill Bottle Caters to Blind

Textured pill bottles designed to aid visually impaired

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Taking prescriptions can be tricky for blind and visually impaired individuals who may have difficulty distinguishing one pill bottle from another, plucking capsules from bottles or locating a cap they may have dropped.

A pair of University of Cincinnati students -- Alex Broerman and Ashley Ma -- have developed textured pill bottles to aid people with vision impairments in easily identifying their medications.

"A pharmacist can suggest other pill identification options."

Broerman noted that while many technology-related solutions -- such as Wi-fi connected prescription bottle caps that glow when patients should take their medication -- are on the market, many are out of reach for users who don't have the money or time to learn to use the systems, including a large population of elderly patients.

Broerman said that many of the blind and visually impaired individuals they interviewed had developed custom solutions, such as a rubber band around a certain bottle to identify a particular medication. He said such home fixes don't go far enough in meeting their needs.

The students already have applied for a patent for the low-tech inexpensive design. The bottle features hinges so that the cap can't get lost and to minimize opening bottles for the elderly who may have difficulty with twist top containers.

The bottle itself is rectangular and stands about three inches tall and two inches wide. This allows users to reach in to pick up their medicine without having to pour it out. The stouter bottle also prevents tipping over.

Most interesting is that the pill bottle offers a distinctive texture on the lid that can be used to identify medication. Eight different textures have been developed. Lids also will feature dark, dramatic color, aiding those with limited sight in identifying drugs.

As a fail-safe, the bottle will have an audio button on the lid that could verbally identify the medication in the container.

"These consumers, many of them elderly, are paying hundreds of dollars more than their sighted counterparts in order to aurally differentiate their medications," Ma said.

"So the challenge becomes to create the best solution for the most number of people at the lowest cost, and we're pretty confident that we've achieved something like that with this project.”

The design titled “Inclusive Pill Bottles for the Blind,” recently won a $1,000 prize in the 2012 “Innov8 For Health,” a business-concept competition sponsored by a variety of regional institutions and companies. The prototype also will be on display June 5-9 at “DAAPworks,” a University of Cincinnati display of senior projects.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 23, 2012
Last Updated:
August 9, 2012