An Atomic Physicist’s Plan to Bring Adjustable Eyeglasses to Developing World Classrooms
Friday, December 12, 2014
Think about what life would be like if you needed glasses and you didn’t have them. You would struggle to study in school, you would be hampered in your work, and much else besides.
So, consider the potential impact of distributing cheap glasses around the world. Between 700 million and three billion people need improved vision. If they were to get it, the bump in gross economic output might be between $200 billion and $1 trillion.
But how? According to Joshua Silver, a veteran atomic scientist from Oxford, England, the answer is a liquid-filled self-adjustable lens. His reason: self-adjustment avoids the need to train large numbers of optometrists, who add to the cost of delivery.
“I’ve shown that you can make your own eyeglasses by following a procedure without an eye test and without the intervention of a professional,” Silver says. “I would contend that’s the only way to bring vision correction to the very large numbers of people who need it over a reasonable timescale.”
Silver started working on his lenses back in 1985 and has been refining them ever since through a series of pilots and clinical trials. In essence, they’re two pieces of plastic filled with a silicone mixture. The more liquid you add, the fatter and more powerful they become. The wearer simply puts on the frames and twirls dials on each arm according to how clearly they can see. The syringes that deliver the mixture detach and are disposable.
- Health Care