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January 22, 2009

A big vision for the future: a billion glasses for those in need


  I was listening to The Take Away this morning on NPR.  Its a great show! Today's Global Health International Segment, "A big vision for the future: a billion glasses for those in need", was very interesting.  You can listen to this segment here.

"In sub-Saharan Africa vision and eye care services are costly and hard to come by. While 60-70% of people in wealthy nations wear corrective lenses, only 5% of people in the developing world wear glasses. Josh Silver, director of research at The Centre for Vision in the Developing World, has been working to make it easier for the world’s most destitute people to get glasses and keep them, even as they get older and their vision changes. He joins us now to talk about his efforts to bring sight to the world."

AdjustGlassesJoshua Silver's glasses are adjusted by pumping liquid into a thin sac in the plastic lenses. He wants the low-cost eyewear to go to poor countries where many can't afford conventional glasses.

According to Silver, there are 3 billion people worldwide in need of eyewear, but an insufficient number of eye care professionals available to treat the needs of these people.  His invention, a self-adjusting eyeglass will allow people to self prescribe their glasses and allow them to see. 

About 10,000 of these glasses have been distributed worldwide, at a cost of about $20 a pair.  His goal is to get the costs down to $1 per pair, and have 1 million distributed by the end of 2010.  From there the skies the limit.



For more information on Joshua Silver and his adjustable glasses project, there are articles in The Guardian and The Seattle Times.


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