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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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Why do so many people need glasses?
By myhipsi on 12/23/2008 1:13:10 PM , Rating: 2
Mostly just a question of curiosity, but why does such a large percentage of the human population need corrective lenses? I mean I can understand how visual acuity degrades with age (most people over 50 need corrective lenses of some sort) but why are so many people born with defective eye lenses? This sort of goes against Darwins theory doesn't it? I've googled it but can't seem to find an answer, so if someone could explain this to me, it would be much appreciated.

RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By masher2 on 12/23/2008 1:33:13 PM , Rating: 3
> "This sort of goes against Darwins theory doesn't it? "

We haven't needed good eyesight for millenia. According to straight Darwinism, defective eyesight should be increasing rapidly, as there is no longer population pressure to reduce it. Even in the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, poor eyesight rarely led to death, or the inability to breed (a man doesn't usually need 20/20 vision to find a willing woman).

By Lord 666 on 12/24/2008 7:42:57 AM , Rating: 4
I've always had the best results with women while my beer goggles were on.

Surely beer googles were the world first tunable glasses. Put more liquid in and it definitely strenghthens the effects

RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By Jimbo1234 on 12/23/2008 1:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
Whether you currently need glasses or not, you eventually will. On average, by the time you turn 43, your lenses cease to funtion. Mind you that life expectancy wasn't much past 40 even a couple hundred years ago.

RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By Jimbo1234 on 12/23/2008 1:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By Etsp on 12/23/2008 3:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
You used the word "source" and a link to Wikipedia in the same sentence! That's a bad habit. Just consider yourself lucky this wasn't a report for college. :)

By afkrotch on 12/23/2008 3:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, Wikipedia has reputable sources. You know...other random ppl on the internet. Best sources around.

By Jimbo1234 on 12/23/2008 4:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
When I was in college, we used books. Since I'm not in college anymore I don't need to waste my time finding a book about it and will link to what I find easist that confirms what the books from college already told me.

RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By Jimbo1234 on 12/23/2008 4:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
And just in case you failed to look deeper, the Wikipedia entry lists its sources as well, such as the World Health Organization.

The bad habit isn't using Wikipedia, it's not looking deeper than the surface.

RE: Why do so many people need glasses?
By Etsp on 12/23/2008 6:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
The bad habit is referencing the user generated portion of Wikipedia, and not referencing the sources they used to generate that content. I never said Wikipedia is bad, it's a great resource for sources, but it, in and of itself, is not a valid source if you want to prove a point. Don't use it directly, use it's sources. :)

By ThePooBurner on 12/23/2008 1:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
This is what we call the result of "bad breeding." Let me elaborate on that a bit in the context of your question. With Darwinism the strongest and best survive while the weak die off, leaving only the best genes in the pool with constant refinement. Contrast that with how many babies are saved from death at birth due to the advances of medicine, the number of cancer survivors for the same reason, the number of... you get the point. The advances in medicine to save lives, many of which have huge impacts on the world as a whole, have also caused the same weakening of the gene pool that is allowing such negatives as horrible eyes to become a problem. We've simply traded one thing, or rather one set of positives/negatives, for another. Good genes and less defects, not necessarily brains VS Poorer genes and more defects but potentially more brain power. For example someone like Hawking who has helped advance science would have never made it under the old rules, but thanks to the trade off we get to benefit from his genius. This is a bit of a general example, and there are other ways in which having more people around is a good thing (I think the care for some of the less fortunate allows the best to come out in people that might not have otherwise come out in the old way.).

Hopefully that does a bit to help answer your question. And so i don't get rated down for no reason: "bad breeding" is "bad" in terms of successful darwinism.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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