British Inventor Josh Silver has developer a pair of eyeglasses that are instantly adjustable. They’ve got a liquid-filled sac in the middle—add more fluid to make the glasses stronger, deflate to weaken them.
The no-optician-required glasses rely on the principle that the fatter a lens is, the more powerful it comes, so by pumping in or sucking out fluid, the glasses can be instantly tailored to the right strength. They’re so simple to adjust that practically anyone can do it. So far the only complaint with the glasses is that they’re kind of ginormous—which kind of goes with having specs that operate on the coke-bottle glasses principle and have a fluid-filled membrane sitting in the middle of the lens.
It was a chance conversation on March 23, 1985 that first started Silver on his quest to make the world’s poor see. A professor of physics at Oxford University, Silver was idly discussing optical lenses with a colleague, wondering whether they might be adjusted without the need for expensive specialist equipment, when the lightbulb of inspiration first flickered above his head.
What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be “tuned” by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?
More than two decades after posing that question, Silver now feels he has the answer. The British inventor has embarked on a quest that is breathtakingly ambitious, but which he insists is achievable – to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.
Photo by Michael Lewis.