I’m always happy to hear about innovative, cheap ideas that can help people, especially people in developing countries. I’ll list such ideas occasionally, and I’ll start today with an idea for cheap adjustable glasses that’s been around for some time now.
Take a look at this article from Real Change about “self-refracting” glasses. The lenses in these glasses are “made of a clear membrane filled with silicon oil and held between two plastic discs. The wearer can change the amount of oil in the lenses using a removable syringe and dial that attach to the glasses’ frame. Adding or removing oil changes the curvature of the lenses, which alters their strength.” Neat idea, huh?
Josh Silver, the physicist who invented these “AdSpecs”, has created a Centre for Vision in the Developing World at Oxford. Check out his 2009 TED presentation on these glasses. At that time, he said there were 30,000 of these glasses in use around the world, and each pair cost around $19. And that there were areas in the world with only 1 optometrist for 8 million people — that’s where the self-adjusting nature of these glasses helps! He was talking about getting glasses to a billion people who need them, and for that he needs to get the cost down — what a glorious vision!