Martin Aufmuth has created an innovative solution to global visual impairment. In 2012, he founded OneDollarGlasses, an association that manufactures spectacles for just $1. First piloted in Uganda, OneDollarGlasses has since expanded to Rwanda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso and Bolivia.
According to the World Health Organization, 153 million people worldwide have impaired vision. Ninety percent of those with impaired vision live in developing countries where trained optometrists are few and glasses, too expensive. Left uncorrected, impaired vision can become a major impediment to people’s performances in work and education.
Through OneDollarGlasses, opticians are able to travel to remote areas of developing regions where the consequences of vision impairment are most greatly felt.
Opticians are equipped with all that they need in just a 30 x 30 x 30 centimeters box (11 x 11 x 11 inches). The box contains 25 durable, polycarbonate lenses of varying strengths and a “bending machine” that shapes steel frames on-site.
After conducting an eye test, opticians can match a person with a pair of lenses that are manually inserted into the frames. The ease of this process facilitates the future replacement of lenses should a person’s vision change.
The low-maintenance bending machine lies at “the core” of OneDollarGlasses, says Aufmuth on his website. No electricity is necessary, and a single pair of glasses can be manufactured onsite in 10-30 minutes.
Opticians themselves are required to attend an intensive 14-day training on how to use the equipment. Afterward, they are free to run their businesses independently.
For Aufmuth’s work, OneDollarGlasses was the 2013 recipient of the Siemens Foundation’s award for “simple technology that empowers people” as well as the 2015 Tech Award in San Jose, California.
The Centre for Vision in the Developing World states that eyesight “will be one of the world’s top 10 health issues in terms of productivity and opportunities” by 2030. OneDollarGlasses is helping the developing world to see a brighter future.
– Jocelyn Lim