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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – December 30, 2002: Adaptive Eyecare - 2002-12-27

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Health Organization estimates as many as one-thousand-million people around the world cannot see correctly. About ninety percent of these people are in poor countries. They need corrective glasses for their eyes, but cannot get them. This is partly because there are not enough trained eye doctors in most developing countries. In addition, corrective eyeglasses cost a lot of money.

One man is trying to change this. Joshua Silver is a physicist at Oxford University in Britain. He has created eyeglasses that permit wearers to correct their own vision. The glasses are called adaptive glasses. The lenses of the glasses are filled with a special fluid. A person can change the strength of the lenses by turning a small device attached to the glasses.

The device changes the amount of fluid in the lenses. A person changes the shape and power of the lenses until he can see most clearly. The whole process takes less than a minute.

The glasses do not correct for astigmatism, or the abnormal shape of the eye. However, they improve the ability of people to see close up and far away. Mister Silver estimates that the glasses can help about ninety percent of the people who need to improve their vision.Mister Silver formed a company to research and develop the special glasses six years ago. It is called Adaptive Eyecare. The goal of the company is to provide low-cost corrective glasses to people in developing countries. Models of the glasses have been tested in Africa and Asia. Now, the company is preparing to sell several hundred-thousand glasses to Ghana for about ten dollars each.

The Ghanaian government is seeking aid from the World Health Organization to help pay for the glasses. Mister Silver expects the price of the glasses to drop once technology and manufacturing improve. However, he says the glasses should not be a replacement for eye care or treatment for eye diseases.

If you have a computer, you can find out more about these special glasses at the Adaptive Eyecare Internet Web page. The address is www dot adaptive dash eyecare dot com. (

Or you can write to the company at Adaptive Eyecare Limited, the Oxford Center for Innovation, Mill Street, Oxford, oh-x-two, zero-j-x, United Kingdom.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.