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.

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RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By nah on 12/24/2008 8:40:47 AM , Rating: 2
You'll find in development economics literature references to India's English heritage, such as education system and english language, that has allowed India to much more easily engage in world trade. Thats considered a big deal;

Neither Japan nor China were ever colonies of Britain or experienced the 'light' of British colonialism (Cough)--yet their exports as a % of GDP and in absolute terms are much higher than India's

RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/24/2008 3:24:18 PM , Rating: 3
Did you even bother to think of why?

We rebuilt Japan after WW2 in our glorious capitalist image. The nation was barred from having the capacity to so much as ruffle the feathers of a bird, and they turned to industry.

China did have a taste of British colonialism (as well as our own), but not as much as India, obviously. But Hong Kong did. Feel free to compare Hong Kong and the rest of China!

You're going to have to try a little harder if you're going to rewrite economic history and theory. :P

RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/24/2008 3:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I think as I explained, it still comes down to India's shift to Marxism. They still have a strong communist party, and a slow to move mountain of red tape. All the advantages in the world would have a hard time overcoming that.

By nah on 12/24/2008 9:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
Colonialism economic practice was worse than mercantilism--Britain choked off India's economic growth so that Indians would be forced to buy British manufactures--even the American economic mission sent during WW2 (1942)suggested to the British in no uncertain terms to allow India to grow economically instead of making it reliant on England--

Oh, and I think as I explained, it still comes down to India's shift to Marxism

That has to be the vaguest statement I have ever read up on India--it was from it's inception--and still is--the world's biggest democracy--sure it had government interference in the economy from 1947-68--when it achieved extraordinarily high rates of growth--but from the 80s the economy was liberalised--it's about as far from a Marxist country as any--infact there are Marxist guerrillas trying to overthrow a state government by force-

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