Bringing sight to the third world and areas where Optometrists are rare has been a dream of Josh Silver since 1985. The retired professor of physics at Oxford University believes that with his invention, he and his team will be able to provide sight to one billion of the world’s poorest by 2020.
His invention is based on the simple concept that the thicker a lens is, the greater its magnification power. With that basic principle, he devised a fluid-based lens that could be adjusted by the wearer on the fly with nothing more than a syringe and a screwdriver. The wearer can adjust a dial on the syringe to add or remove the liquid in the lens until the desired power is achieved and a screw is then tightened to seal off the lens.
The technology behind his glasses is so simple that his team has distributed over 30,000 pairs in over 15 countries worldwide. The scalability of his work is the obvious obstacle. But Silver is confident, with enough exposure, that his invention could be created for $1 each in a volume of one million.
Silver plans to initiate a larger scale trial in India next year, and with the help of local humanitarian Mehmood Khan providing financial assistance, they will attempt to distribute one million pairs of Silver’s glasses to the poor and needy.
The design of these glasses is very basic and is quite large but Silver and his team are hard at work to reduce their size and their manufacturing costs. If Silver were successful in the distribution of his glasses, it would mean a revolutionary change in the lives of the poor all around the world. No longer would people be forced to retire for their occupation due to eyesight problems or literacy be hindered by the inability to see; the implications are truly tremendous.