This is a photograph of a pair of Adaptive Eyecare spectacles. It is labelled showing that the lenses are filled with fluid. On the one arm of the glasses there is a pump and a wheel to allow the user to adjust the amount of fluid in the lenses.
To continue my exploration into the Design Triennial exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt in NYC, I would like to share the incredible ADSPECS project.  


"The World Health Organization estimates that over half a billion people around the world need vision correction, but have minimal access to trained eye-care specialists and affordable eyeglasses. The majority of these people live in the developing world, on less than two dollars a day. The educational and economic impact of uncorrected vision is profound, limiting people’s ability to read, write, learn, work, and participate actively in daily life. In 1996, Joshua Silver, a physicist at the University of Oxford, created AdSpecs to offer low-cost corrective eyewear to underserved patients, who can “fill” their own prescription without the need for expensive optical equipment. A few years later, Silver introduced a prototype of his self-adjustable glasses, which he developed for small-scale mass production. In 2007, he added a lens power scale, an important feature to allow a user to know their prescription.
The glasses’ technology is simple: as the curve of the lens changes, so does its refractive power. Silver created fluid-filled lenses—a clear, circular sac of silicone oil, which has a high refractive index, is sandwiched between two clear and durable plastic membranes. The lenses are connected to a tube and a small syringe fitted with a dial, which wearers use to adjust the amount of liquid in each sac, custom forming each lens’s curvature to their prescription. Once adjusted, the sacs are sealed off with a small valve and the syringes are removed. The technology can correct nearsightedness and farsightedness, but not astigmatism, and the lenses can only be circular. Currently priced at $19 a pair, the glasses demonstrate how a low-tech solution can bring costs down and allow for easy deployment of a health device. Silver hopes that with his self-refraction approach, half a billion people will be wearing the eyeglasses they need by 2020".
The gift of sight.  Simple materials.  Recycled content.  Innovative thinking. Challenging the status-quo.
Another example of the power of design to profoundly change lives.

About the Exhibition

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street, NY, NY.
On view through January 9, 2011.



- excerpts courtesy of

AdSpecs. Joshua Silver (British, b. 1946), Adaptive Eyecare Ltd. and Oxford Centre for Vision in the Developing World. Distributors: Education Ministry of Ghana, U.S. Military Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program. United Kingdom, initiated 1996, gauged version 2007. Plastic tubing, aluminum rings, silicone fluid, polyester thin film, polycarbonate covers. Courtesy of designer via

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