Self-adjusting glasses for the poor

New eye glasses will help bring improved sight to the world's poor

New eye glasses will help bring improved sight to the world's poor

Though a bit of a departure, there was a story that came across my email today I felt was important for the impact of the subject.

The poorest people all over the world can ill afford to purchase eye glasses to see well. Now British scientist Josh Silver – a professor of physics at Oxford University – has come up with a method of creating inexpensive glasses that wearers can self-adjust to their own prescription.

The novel solution entails combining durable plastic lenses with a pair of clear circular sacks filled with fluid. A small syringe connects each sack to either “arm” of the eyeglasses. Wearers adjust the syringe’s dial to increase or reduce the amount of fluid in the sack, which changes the power of the lens. Each lens is then sealed by twisting a small screw and removing the syringes.

Silver is working towards an ambitious goal: to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020. Already 30,000 of these new glasses have been distributed in 15 countries. Silver’s next goal is to launch a trial in India where they hope to distribute one million pairs of glasses.

New Eye Glasses.2Ultimately, Silver and his team plan to give 100 pairs every year to needy people across the world .

Silver, now retired, makes no profit from this venture. Though a huge undertaking, Silver’s reward is the reaction of people who can suddenly do everyday tasks with ease that before were almost impossible.

“People put them on, and smile,” says Major Kevin White, formerly of the US military’s humanitarian program, who organized the distribution of thousands of pairs around the world after discovering Silver’s glasses on Google.

They all say, ‘Look, I can read those tiny little letters.'”

For more on this amazing project, see

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