Print 68 comment(s) - last by nah.. on Dec 24 at 9:42 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By masher2 on 12/23/2008 1:15:40 PM , Rating: 0
> so you are more or less correct in saying it had a minimal impact on the African side of the slave trade"

Actually, what I said was that, rather than fueling the slave trade, Britain was instrumental in halting it.

And that's just one example. Around the globe, Britain worked to stamp out abuses in its colonies such as torture, ritual murder, child marriage, etc, and to encourage reforms in education, law, and governance.

In sharp contrast to your viewpoint of Britain "looting resources", most colonies paid an effective tax rate equal or even less than what British citizens themselves did.

> " Every industrialized nation has committed its share of atrocities"

And every non-industrialized nation as well. That's given. However, to leap from that to the belief that British colonialism is responsible for the current sad state of the Third World is one that you'll find little support for.

> "In India, the majority in the countryside were left to judge each other based on preexisting laws"

On the contrary, the British Charter Act of 1813 banned abuses like thuggee (religious ritual murder), the act of 1833 give India its first laws banning religious discrimination, the Act of 1843 banned slavery, etc, etc, etc.

Britain was limited in how fast it could enforce the rule of law upon India. It was a vast region, perhaps the most ethnically diverse on Earth, and highly intolerant of such advances. But work hard it did to do so...and India is today the better off for it.

Gandhi may be revered for "freeing" India from British rule, but Britain did a far better job of suppressing Muslim/Hindu/Sihk violence than India/Pakistan have done since. How many civil wars has the region fought since independence in 1947? Four? Plus the largest refugee migration in all of human history. Not exactly a stellar record.

Indian independence certainly benefited the new ruling elite, but for the ordinary people of the region, their lives became worse, and stayed so for many decades.

By hellokeith on 12/23/2008 6:09:24 PM , Rating: 5
All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

The aqueduct.

Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.

Masked Activist:
And the sanitation!

Oh yes... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.

All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done...

And the roads...

(sharply) Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads...

Another Masked Activist:

Other Masked Voices:
Medicine... Education... Health...

Yes... all right, fair enough...

Activist Near Front:
And the wine...

Oh yes! True!

Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the Romans left, Reg.

Masked Activist at Back:
Public baths!

And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.

Yes, they certainly know how to keep order... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.

(more general murmurs of agreement)

All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

Brought peace!

(very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh... (scornfully) Peace, yes... shut up!

By nah on 12/24/2008 8:28:58 AM , Rating: 2
On the contrary, the British Charter Act of 1813 banned abuses like thuggee (religious ritual murder), the act of 1833 give India its first laws banning religious discrimination, the Act of 1843 banned slavery, etc, etc, etc.

No doubt this is why on the front of most of the British Clubs in India signs were posted stating 'No Dogs or Indians Allowed '--for reference see Nehru's comment on the Byculla Club in Bombay in the 1920s and 30s. Also no doubt why racial discrimination was practiced on a massive scale--as of 1890--nearly a century and more after the start of British rule in India--there were exactly 4 Indian officers in the elite ICS--I could add some more

How many civil wars has the region fought since independence in 1947? Four?

A civil war occurs, by definition, between factions existing in a country--not between countries

By Spinne on 12/24/2008 9:15:53 AM , Rating: 2
Sure buddy, of course you're right.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki