Spectacle revolution

Self-adjusting glasses may go on to help billions of people in the developing world with poor eyesight.

It is estimated that more than a billion people in the developing world suffer from poor eyesight, which restricts their education and employment possibilities.

But a retired Oxford University physics professor has the solution. Joshua Silver, now director of the Oxford-based Centre for Vision in the Developing World, has been working on the design of self-adjusting glasses for more than 20 years.

Wearers would simply have to look at a reading chart and adjust the glasses themselves until they can see the letters more clearly. This eliminates the, often very expensive, need for a consultation with an optician.

Silver, who has been liaising with the World Bank on this project, has been shortlisted for an EU award for his design. Together with the Dow Corning Corporation, Silver hopes to distribute 200 million pairs of self-adjusting glasses to children in Africa and Asia.

An ingenious solution perhaps, but its costs about R165 to produce a pair of glasses, though Silver believes that this price can come down.