Adjustable Glasses

British inventor Josh Silver began working on eyeglasses that can be tuned by the wearer in 1985. His goal is to bring better vision to a billion people worldwide who cannot afford, or don't have access to, an optometrist.
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.

Silver's goal is to distribute a billion pairs of his adaptive glasses to poor people by 2020 (the pun in the year is intended, I'm sure). Already, 30,000 pairs have been given out in 15 countries.
"The reaction is universal," says Major Kevin White, formerly of the US military's humanitarian programme, who organised the distribution of thousands of pairs around the world after discovering Silver's glasses on Google. "People put them on, and smile. They all say, 'Look, I can read those tiny little letters.'"

Silver hopes to get the cost of manufacturing each pair down to a dollar each. Link -Thanks, Cuimhne!

(image credit: Michael Lewis)

Genius. Getting the cost down will be hard, and even at a dollar each, he's going to need some serious humanitarian support to get a billion dollars' worth. But if he's been plugging away at this project for 20 years, I have faith that he'll make it happen.
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Clever! I believe that the "oil lenses" in binoculars mentioned (briefly) in Frank Herbert's "Dune" were meant to work in a similar fashion --- perhaps the technology already existed in some form. But to bring it down to eyeglass-size at a reasonable cost is the real trick. Will they come with a second set of dials to adjust for astygmatism?
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Those will easily sell at a profit if sold to local entrepreneurs. This doesn't have to be a humanitarian giveaway. People don't need hand outs, they need opportunities to bring products to market like this that are affordable. The tailor in the article clearly would have bought a pair to earn his living. See Paul Polaks book 'Out of Poverty' if you need more proof.
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It's been known for a while that water works like a lens, and it’s great that it's finally being utilized. I do find it unfortunate that a single person and 20 years of work is needed to help enable thousands of people in under-developed countries, while money is being blown on predictable marketing focused research & development.
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Without getting into why a billion people could not benefit from these glasses and how there are cheaper ways to provide glasses to the masses, let me say that large problems are frequently solved by good ideas rather than good devices. I hope this helps.

Here is a link to The Lions' website. Once you go there, you will understand why I posted it.
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Sadly, 80 percent of the world's blind were needlessly without sight. Through SightFirst, Lions have prevented blindness by supporting cataract surgeries, helping to build or expand eye hospitals and clinics, distributing sight-saving medication and training eye care professionals

While all those services are a boon to those who are not fortunate enough to have them, people still need corrective lenses. Cataracts are a large part of the problem, especialy in areas where malnurishment is an issue, but surgery & medicine can only do so much.
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"Silver hopes to get the cost of manufacturing each pair down to a dollar each."

Cost to make: $1.00
Cost when they go mainstream: $100.00+

In otherwords, why wouldn't this catch on in areas not poverty stricken? My eyes change all the time and going to get new perscriptions is costly and inconvienient. I'd be just fine with having contact lenses that are always up-to-date perscription wise, and having a pair of eyeglasses such as these for when I'm at home on the computer.
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Wonderful idea. If I could buy a pair I would, just so I always have spare glasses around for anyone who might need them. I'd pay more than $1 too!
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