Vision: Eyeglasses With a Tunable Prescription

Vision: Eyeglasses With a Tunable Prescription
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 23 december 2008

If you’ve ever been for an eye exam then you’re familiar with the process of looking through various combinations of lenses as the optometrist attempts to determine your ideal prescription.  Now imagine taking the power and versatility of this rather unwieldy machine and putting all its capabilities in a pair of glasses. That’s exactly what retired Oxford University physics professor Joshua Silver has done by creating the world’s first pair of tunable eyeglasses, a process that has taken him the better part of two decades to develop. Daily Tech explains the technology behind the innovative design:

 His lenses use liquid lenses which inject or remove liquid to adjust the thickness of the lens.  Thicker lenses are more powerful, while thinner lenses are weaker.  By adjusting the thickness, typically done by cutting to a prescription, the proper vision correction is achieved.  However, the new lenses can be adjusted freely.

The glasses’ liquid lenses are encased in tough plastic, which protects the delicate lens sacs.  A small dial on each arm pumps a small syringe which adds or removes fluid from the lens sac.  These syringe/dial setup can be easily removed after the proper adjustment is achieved, saving on costs.

Though these glasses won’t be winning fashion awards anytime soon, they represent an inexpensive alternative for providing better vision throughout the third world, a breakthrough that can help boost literacy rates and improve overall quality of life.  Silver expects to see the glasses hitting the mass market within the next decade, but in the meantime smaller trail programs are already underway.

Britain’s Department for International Development has begun a trial deployment of the glasses, and has already distributed thousand of pairs in Third World countries.  Professor Silver is determined to ramp up production to millions of units.

 Daily Tech: Tunable Glasses Could Bring Vision to a Billion in Third World


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