Maria Dellapina‘s daughter, Erin, has Down syndrome. Like nearly 90 percent of people with Down syndrome, Erin was wearing glasses by the time she was in high school.
But since those with Down syndrome develop lower nasal bridges, their only options are often thick-lensed glasses with an elastic strap.
The single mother of four, however, was uniquely qualified to do something about this problem. An optician, she mocked up a design that would fit Erin and sent it to some engineers, who promptly modified it to make it more general and less tailored to Erin.
Frustrated, Dellapina took a few prototypes that had eventually been made (after being rejected by another round of engineers) to a conference for other patients with Down syndrome. She walked away with a four-page list of people who wanted the glasses, and her custom-glasses company, Specs4Us was born.
The line of glasses that bear’s her daughter’s name Erin’s World, is designed specifically for children and adults with Down syndrome and others with unique facial features. Lightweight, stylish and able to withstand twisting and turning, the glasses are a whole new world to people used to Coke-bottle style strap-on goggles.
“I get emails, Facebook messages all the time,” Dellapina told PEOPLE Now. “I had one mother, Amy, that wrote me a real nice letter and said that, ‘My daughter wasn’t really walking much before she put her glasses on it just creates a new life for them.”