Saturday, January 24, 2009

Eyeglasses for the Poor

I like to take note of encouraging signs that the poor of the world might actually have their lives improved. That's part of what I recognize as answers to the prayer; "Thy Kingdom Come!" So I think I'll start passing these on under the heading "Blessings to the Poor."

For starters, here's a link to an article about a British Physicist, Josh Silver, who has invented eyeglasses for the poor that the wearer can adjust to their own "prescription" without the need for an optometrist. He estimates they can be produced for $1 per pair and his goal is to have one billion pairs delivered by the year 2020. (20-20... get it? Cute!)

Here's a quote from the article about how much this could mean to people:
The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing. During an early field trial, funded by the British government, in Ghana, Silver met a man called Henry Adjei-Mensah, whose sight had deteriorated with age, as all human sight does, and who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle of his sewing machine. "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."
You can also hear a 3 minute segment from National Public Radio interviewing Josh here. It says that the U.S. Military has already purchased 20,000 pairs to give away.

How cool is that?!

Here's the Wiki page on him, a link to the Adaptive Eyecare project, and a YouTube video of him demonstrating how they work.

Of course, what he really needs is a "Donate Now" button! That's something I'd like to see.


stevieg2911 said...

Amazing invention! I'm really impressed by the concept, the actual eyeglasses, and the passion behind the eyeglass invention to improve the lives of potentially hundreds of millions of folks who do not have access to glasses for one reason or another. What a God-thing!

The Feral Pastor said...

Yeah - the guy's got a great heart. In the NPR interview, he's asked if any eyeglass companies have approached him to develop and market the product. His reply, with gentle British understatement, is that he has been approached, but hasn't gone that route because "I've always been somewhat concerned that... my interests may not be... absolutely... (heh) in line with the interests of the industry, because I actually want to take this technology and apply it to... poor people." Gotta love that!