British inventor Josh Silver, a former professor of physics at Oxford University, has come up with a game-changer of a product design with his water-lensed glasses.
Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device's tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.
The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.
You can mass-produce millions of these, rather than manufacturing myriad individual lenses each tuned to a user's specific vision deficiencies. And while the one-size-fits-all mentality may not fly in developed nations, Silver's goal is to help the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who suffer from poor eyesight.
Silver calls his flash of insight a "tremendous glimpse of the obvious"--namely that opticians weren't necessary to provide glasses. This is a crucial factor in the developing world where trained specialists are desperately in demand: in Britain there is one optometrist for every 4,500 people, in sub-Saharan Africa the ratio is 1:1,000,000.
The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing. During an early field trial, funded by the British government, in Ghana, Silver met a man called Henry Adjei-Mensah, whose sight had deteriorated with age, as all human sight does, and who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle of his sewing machine. "So he retires. He was about 35. He could have worked for at least another 20 years. We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see."
So far 30,000 of Silver's specs have been distributed, but more are on the way; his eventual target is 100 million pairs.
via the guardian
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Looking for the downside of things seems to be a cultural disease. Wish someone found an elegant solution to *that*.
"This is great. How long do you think it will take to get to the poor here in the US? Any bets that the FDA will keep them out of the country at the behest of the big optical companies? I'll bet the US poor are the last to get them."
the problem with this kind of thinking is that the reasoning behind FDA and such are to protect the consumer - currently in the eyeglass industry there are pretty strict rules on how accurately your lenses reflect your prescription - if memory serves if the lenses are more than .125 diopters off then the lenses should be remade. however these glasses would probably fall through the cracks of those rules due to some wonderful back doors into the eyeglass business - basically the same one that lets people sell reading glasses over the counter - by claiming to be "magnifying glasses" as opposed to prescription glasses. these would pretty much be about as useful as readers - better than nothing , but not terribly great. neat idea though - i hope it helps lots of older folks who are dealing with presbyopia.
I assume there is no problem with getting air bubbles into the lenses. That would be really annoying...
This person deserves a the funding and support to continue developing such great ideas.
Sometimes you don't have to think hard, you simply have to think right (logic).
If this is not doing something for the good of mankind then I don't know what is. Also as Nick says it won't make optometrists obsolete either. Well done Mr Silver
"Joshua Silver is a capitalist! ...and he deserves every penny he gets. Affordable irrigation systems, vaccines, satellite phones, HIV/AIDS medication, and thousands of other innovations that benefit the third world have been brought about thanks to the free market."
Read the full article. Silver is not making any profit on the glasses. Try to calm your austrian-economic-beating heart.
Where can we find them?
I am also aware of a few eye exercises which has gotten the eyes back in shape. Not well known because of the powerful cartel of industry.
and so what if the idea is a hundred years old? If more people did this, took old ideas/or came up with brand new solutions and adjusted them to help those in need, we'd have a lot less... people in need... hrm. thats right.
However, people have to make sure they judge the right prescription for themselves, or else they will get headaches from subtle eye strain!
We [the US}did this in a matter of days. The will of the leadership in Congress was ALL that was needed to accomplish this. What is lacking in providing solutions is the will of the "Powers that be" nothing more. If it is in our interest there are no boundaries.......
Hope these will be able to help some of those struggling countries.
This is total genius - such a fantastically simple idea - these glasses could be produced for almost nothing, and could help so many people it's unreal...
Well done man!!
I just hope the project gets the backing it deserves...
Stuff like this - it's what I want to do, it's what I'm trying to work toward... Hopefully one day I can pull it off myself.
Contrast this with the miserable failure of international government aid and loan programs, interventionist military schemes, protectionist trade policies, ad nauseum.
I wish more people could see the distinction. If you really want to save the world, find a way to make a nickel by saving a life, then find a billion-person market. Don't count on the political messiah de jour (you know who I'm talking about.)
They are cool. Being the cheap type, I might even get a set: http://www.adaptive-eyecare.com/
too bad that not so many people actually read these days