Reporting Matt Roush
OXFORD, U.K. — Midland-based Dow Corning and the Centre for Vision in the Developing World are one step closer to delivering on their goal of providing vision correction — and thus, better education and quality of life – for children in the developing world.
As a result of the Child Vision initiative, the CVDW has developed a new prototype of self-adjustable glasses. The design and creation of the Child Vision prototype demonstrates significant progress toward the design, manufacture, and distribution of a child-specific version of self-adjustable glasses.
The Child Vision initiative, the result of a long-standing collaboration between Dow Corning and the CVDW, was formally launched in March 2011 to create an innovative new way to help provide vision correction to children in the developing world.
Recently published academic research demonstrates that most children aged 12 to 18 are able to successfully achieve very good vision correction using self-adjustable eyeglasses.
“Using our self-adjustable glasses, we want to help the more than 100 million young people in the developing world who need vision correction to see clearly,” said Josh Silver, founder and director of the CVDW, and inventor of the world’s first universal fluid-filled adjustable eyeglasses. “By combining the expertise of the CVDW and Dow Corning, we have been able to create a new design of self-adjustable glasses which are more suited to children aged 12-18.”
With the help of local teachers and translators, a team led by the CVDW recently traveled to India to capture valuable insights from nearly 600 school-aged children. The results of the week-long assessment were used to refine the design features of the new prototype to maximize their appeal to this audience.
“The intention in designing the new glasses was to create a product that is simple and intuitive to use, fits teenagers well, and looks good, while at the same time being low cost to manufacture,” said Maja Kecman, head of design at the CVDW, who was responsible for the development of the new glasses.
The new glasses, filled with a Dow Corning optical silicone fluid, are designed specifically for the needs of myopic (nearsighted) teenagers. With a power range of 0 to -5 diopters, users are able to adjust the lens power by turning a dial on each arm. This adds or removes the fluid until the user can see most clearly. The adjusters are then detached, leaving a conventional-looking pair of glasses.
In addition to design upgrades, key elements of the Child Vision initiative are to ensure the design can be scaled up to mass-production levels and to establish a distribution and instructional program.
“Achieving the prototype is a great step forward but in order to be successful, we have to get them to the young people who need them,” said James Stephenson, global health care market manager and leader of the Child Vision initiative at Dow Corning. “Our collaboration with the CVDW is about using vision correction to improve the quality of life of young people in the developing world. The CVDW now needs to scale up the glasses to sustainable production levels in order that children can ultimately benefit from this technology.”
The next phase of the Child Vision initiative will see user trials and validation of the prototype. This will lead to the production and distribution of the first 50,000 pairs of the new glasses planned to start in late 2012. The CVDW is in active discussions with several other potential funding and distribution partners. The aim is to distribute glasses through school-based programs, with young people correcting their vision under the supervision of their teacher. Initial deployments of the new glasses are targeted for China, India and Indonesia where the prevalence of refractive error is highest.