Posted by: davidjolson | 04/01/2011

Putting improved vision within reach of children

This is a guest blog written by Priscilla VanderVeer, senior associate for APCO Worldwide.

Last month, the first step was taken to help improve the lives of the more than 100 million children in the developing world who need eyeglasses but for whom vision correction is often out of reach.

On March 16, the Center for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) and Dow Corning Corporation, a global leader in silicon-based technology and a client of ours, announced they were teaming up to improve children’s ability to see by designing, manufacturing and distributing child-specific self-adjustable eyeglasses through and initiative known as “Child ViSion™.”

Fluid-filled self-adjustable eyeglasses for adults have existed for more than a decade.  Invented by Professor Josh Silver, an Oxford University physicist and founder and director of CVDW, the original self-adjustable eyeglasses contain special lenses composed of clear membranes that are filled with silicone fluid made by Dow Corning.  By adding or removing fluid via removable syringes and dials attached to the eyeglasses’ frame, wearers can modify the curvature of the lenses and therefore the strength of their eyeglasses.

The eyeglasses are designed to provide vision correction for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (inability to focus on near objects). Silver’s existing self-adjustable eyeglasses have already provided vision correction to approximately 40,000 people in more than 20 countries.

Child ViSion™ will explore how self-adjustable eyeglasses can be designed specifically for the needs of children. This includes ensuring the eyeglasses are able to withstand daily use, are light weight and look more appealing, which will increase the likelihood children will wear them.  Another key element of the initiative is ensuring the design can be scaled up to mass production levels in order to lower the cost of production and ultimately, the eyeglasses themselves.

Along with technical and materials expertise, Dow Corning is contributing $3 million to the initiative, which will be led by the CVDW.

To see how the existing eyeglasses work and learn more about Child ViSion™, check out the video and background at the project’s media center or follow updates on Twitter @hcvision.

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