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What started as a San Diego State University assignment to formulate a business plan with a social impact has turned into a full-time limited liability company that is restoring vision for people in need around the world.

Operating under the slogan “Vision to Give,” SOLO Eyewear was founded last year by recent graduates Jenny Amaraneni, Craig Stern, and creative director Dana Holliday, and donates a pair of corrective lenses or helps fund a sight-saving surgery for every pair of SOLO shades sold (the new generation retails for $50-65).

“If people can’t read or see, they can’t work,” says Stern, a marketing consultant and web designer currently living in Pacific Beach. “Restoring peoples’ vision can change their lives.”

So far, SOLO has changed 855 lives (including 105 cataract surgeries) in 11 countries using their own money and proceeds from their five colors of wayfarer shades.

“I’ve watched a woman going from not being able to see at all to having vision,” says Stern, who recently spent 17 days in India to partner up with the country’s top optometry institutes. “They took the cataract out in fifteen minutes. Two days of recovery later, she could see.”

At $32 a pair, SOLO sunglasses feature high quality CR-39 lenses, acetate frames, flex hinges, and lightweight, stained bamboo arms.

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Working out of the Ambient creative space in the landmark El Cortez Hotel downtown, SOLO is now generating funds for their third generation shades via a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of $40 gets you a pair of the new run of classic wayfarers and $50 gets a pair of a new style with metal frames.

SOLO isn’t ready to disclose what exactly the new style is, but Stern hints “you’ll look cooler than Tom Cruise in Top Gun.”

Shipping for backers is set for late July.

SOLO Eyewear is also available online and in the SDSU Bookstore.

Look for SOLO Eyewear at shops around town this summer.

Says Stern: “I like taking action that moves people.”

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