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The world's first tunable glasses, invented by retired Oxford professor Joshua Silver, may look clunky and archaic, but their cheap easily-adjustable design could correct the vision of a billion people living in the third world, and may allow them to continue to work. More importantly they will contribute to Third World literacy.  (Source: Engadget)
The world's first fully tunable lenses could soon be making a world of a difference

Here in the U.S. we take for granted many of the necessities of life.  However, across the world billions living in Third World countries and developing nations have trouble obtaining basic needs.  Something as simple as finding clean drinking water can be impossible.  Basic medical care is scarce.  And those with poor vision are forced to endure as glasses are typically far too expensive.

A new invention could fix that last problem and bring vision to as many as a billion worldwide -- the world's first fully tunable prescription-free glasses.

The tunable glasses were invented by retired Oxford University physic professor Joshua Silver.  He devised the lenses in a moment he called a "glimpse of the obvious".  He sees them hitting the market in about a decade and bringing improved vision to about a billion living in poverty worldwide.  With vision a key to literacy, these new lenses could make a world of difference.

The new lenses can be tuned via simple mechanical motions to correct for both near-sighted and far-sighted vision.  Professor Silver has been developing them for over two decades now, ever since a 1985 conversation with a colleague hatched the idea in his mind.

Now at last he has a cheap, easily mass-produced design largely worked out.  His lenses use liquid lenses which inject or remove liquid to adjust the thickness of the lens.  Thicker lenses are more powerful, while thinner lenses are weaker.  By adjusting the thickness, typically done by cutting to a prescription, the proper vision correction is achieved.  However, the new lenses can be adjusted freely.

The glasses' liquid lenses are encased in tough plastic, which protects the delicate lens sacs.  A small dial on each arm pumps a small syringe which adds or removes fluid from the lens sac.  These syringe/dial setup can be easily removed after the proper adjustment is achieved, saving on costs.

Britain's Department for International Development has begun a trial deployment of the glasses, and has already distributed thousand of pairs in Third World countries.  Professor Silver is determined to ramp up production to millions of units.

Professor Silver is touched and inspired by stories such as that of Henry Adjei-Mensah, a tailor in Ghana who fell into poverty when he was forced to retire at an early age for lack of glasses.  He describes, "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."

He is currently readying a program in India which will deploy a million units a year.  He wants to eventually release a level of 100 million units a year, with 1 billion distributed by 2020 as his chief goal.



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RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By ThePooBurner on 12/23/2008 12:05:36 PM , Rating: 2
This is why people like your articles more than they like Jason's. I don't think I've ever seen one of the first comments on one of your pieces that read like "Sensationalism, opinion, sweeping conclusions. Gee i wonder who wrote it? Oh, Mick. Well there you go" or "I was excited to read this. Then i saw it was Mick." or "Dang it, it's by mick. Well i guess i can forget everything i just read."


By masher2 (blog) on 12/23/2008 12:17:48 PM , Rating: 5
In the past, I've been guilty as well, and rightfully rapped for it. And for the record, I think Mick is a good writer, albeit he stepped over the line in this particular case.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By ThePooBurner on 12/23/2008 12:32:07 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, Not to mention the fact that saying it the way it was wasn't only opinion, but it was ridiculous in it's suggestion. Saying Brittan "has turned over a new leaf" in that fashion is to accuse them of continuing to act that way and that it is only a recent turn of events that they have stopped being colonialist. The phrase is accusatory and deriding of the current Brittan, which is not only uncalled for but it entirely out of place and line with the facts as they stand. It's a blatant misrepresentation of things. That is the main problem with it. It is holding them guilty still for things they are no longer guilty of, if guilty is even an appropriate word. As Michael pointed out in rebuttal the tribal war nature of the region is just that. The nature of the region. It was like that before they got there, and it is like that now that they aren't there. Therefore, there is no correlation between the warfare and the British occupation and therefore Brittan is absolved by the facts of history from the supposed wrong doing for which they are accused by the statement. Opinion is one thing, but the statement in question was more than just a simple opinion.


By Wierdo on 12/23/2008 12:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well they are in Iraq so... ok low blow.


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