Across the globe, about 150 million people need corrective lenses, but cannot afford them, impeding their ability to work, study and provide for their family. Yet OneDollarGlasses aims to change this.
OneDollarGlasses was started in 2009 by Martin Aufmuth when he saw a pair of glasses sold for US$1 in Germany and questioned why the First World had US$1 glasses but the Third World did not. With that in mind, Aufmuth created the first pair of OneDollarGlasses with bent spring steel wire frames and hardened polycarbonate lenses.
No tools are required to assemble the OneDollarGlasses before putting them on and, most importantly, they cost US$0.80 to make. Today, OneDollarGlasses works with seven developing countries and has greatly improved the lives of many.
Their first project was in Rwanda. Rwanda is densely populated and of the 11.4 million inhabitants, only 11 are ophthalmologists. There, Alfmuth teamed up with a German team of students called Enactus Munich to train local opticians and merchants.
Next, OneDollarGlasses went to Burkina Faso where they faced a low literacy rate and a language barrier. The Enactus students took the lead on training 10 micro-opticians who since then have sold over 1,600 pairs of glasses.
OneDollarGlasses then went to work in Nicaragua in Central America. In Nicaragua, more than 80 percent of the population lives on fewer than US$2 a day. In 2014, OneDollarGlasses sent trainers to San Carlos, and by spring, glasses were being sold.
One pair was given to a woman named María Sandoval on her 99th birthday by her family. With +6 diopters on both eyes, it was the first time she had seen the world in full detail.
In April 2014, Alfmuth presented OneDollarGlasses to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He received praise at the end of his presentation and several countries described his foundation as “groundbreaking.” OneDollarGlasses has it all: low cost to produce, cheap to buy and a huge demand.
– Hannah Resnick