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Self-adjusting glasses a clear alternative for the developing world

posted 8 Jun 2012, 05:29 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Jun 2012, 05:30 ]

British technology company Eyejusters is aiming to bring inexpensive, self-adjustable glasses to the developing world, allowing the visually-challenged to change the strength of their prescription simply by turning a dial on the frames.

All over the developing world, people are living with poor eyesight. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, with little access to optometrists, 670 million people lack the glasses they need.
A British company called Eyejusters is trying to change the sitiation. They're developing what they call a revolutionary and cost-effective way to give people in the developing world clearer vision.

The Eyejusters glasses are adjusted to suit a user's eyes with the simple turn of a dial. Using their SlideLens technology, lenses are designed with nanometre-scale precision to ensure the best quality optics. Behind the regular front lens of the glasses, a second lens is fitted that slides from side to side. By sliding one element over the other, the lens changes its 'prescription' to correct vision instantly.

"Whereas with conventional glasses the strength of the lenses is fixed. With our glasses the strength of the lenses can be changed and this really enables a completely new way to bring vision correction to people," explained Eyejusters co-founder and Oxford University physicist, David Crosby.

Eyejusters has already worked in conjuntion with a Peace Corps volunteer to supply around 800 pairs of glasses to sites across Morocco where the national healthcare system does not reach.

Crosby says that a core ethos of the company is to provide a new way of correcting poor eyesight in developing countries.

"One of the founding principles of the company has been to bring a new way to correct vision in the developing world. There are hundreds of millions of people who cannot see clearly simply because of a lack the correct strength of glasses and what we're able to do is bring them a pair of glasses that they are able to adjust themselves," added Crosby.

Self-adjustable reading glasses have also been developed by Eyejusters. These can be used as a pair of near vision glasses suitable for reading, computer use, cooking, DIY, hobbies or anything a user would normally need a pair of readers for.

"With an adjustable pair of reading glasses you have glasses that you can change according to what you are doing. So if you're working at your computer you can set them to a setting which is comfortable for working at the computer. Whereas if you're reading you can change the setting to something that is comfortable for that," Crosby said.

With poor vision costing the economies of developing countries up to 400 billion U.S. dollars a year, according to the WHO, the potential for self-adjustable glasses to make a positive impact on people's lives is clear. Eyejusters' Owen Reading said that the ease of use and maintenance of their glasses means that aid organisations could easily add them to their services.

"We're looking to partner with organisations in the developing world and one of the really important things is that any organisation that works in the developing world that does aid work or development work is able to add Eyejusters to their services that they offer. The training is very easy and the outcome is long-lasting and really important for people both economically and healthwise," said Reading, an Oxford physics graduate.

In developing countries, there are many reasons for the lack of professionals qualified to prescribe glasses. Reduced access to training and lack of funding for eyecare professionals are the leading causes, as well as migration of skills to Europe and the United States.

Eyejusters believes their self-adjusting glasses will vastly lower the barrier to providing clear vision for hundreds of millions of people.