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Academic To Outline Plans To Help a Billion People See

Cambridge, UK – February 2, 2010:   An atomic physicist will this week outline his ambitious plans to help more than a billion people in developing countries see properly by 2020 with the help of self-  
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  adjusting glasses.

Joshua Silver, director of the Centre for Vision in the Developing World at the University of Oxford, will deliver a Gates Distinguished Lecture on 3rd February entitled 'How do we really bring vision correction to those that need it in the Developing World?'

Although an estimated 60–70% of people in the UK wear glasses, only around 5% of people in developing countries do, due to the cost of the glasses and a lack of access to eye specialists.

Professor Silver has devised glasses which can be adjusted according to the severity of a person's sight problems. Plastic syringes full of silicone oil can be attached to each side of the thick frames, allowing the wearer to pump as much liquid into the glasses as needed to correct their eyesight. Those with more severe vision problems pump in more and those with milder problems pump in less. The syringes are then detached.
Science With Adaptive Optics, Brandner
A pair of the glasses costs around US$19, but Professor Silver hopes this cost can eventually be reduced. He aims to start by distributing a million pairs of the glasses, which are made in China, in India in the next year.
Professor Silver became interested in the emerging area of adaptive optics in the mid-1980s. After considering the way our eye-brain adaptive optical system works, Silver suggested that self-refraction with suitable adaptive lens eyeglasses could be a useful procedure for correcting refractive error, after trying such a procedure on himself.

He created several adaptive lens eyeglasses (adaptive eyewear), and then carried out research supported by the UK's Department for International Development.

Lindsay Chura, external officer for the Gates Scholars' Council, said: 'We are delighted that Professor Silver will be speaking as part of Distinguished Lecture Series. His innovative line of work bringing adaptive eyewear to areas of the world that otherwise would not have access to it represents the type of humanitarian outreach that is at the core of the Gates Scholarship.'

Joshua Silver Prof. Joshua Silver
Previous News:  
TED Global 2009: Josh Silver Demos Adjustable Liquid-Filled Eyeglasses, Sept 2009.

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