This story caught my eye (pun unintended) not too long ago. Growing up with glasses and contact lenses available the moment I needed them, I had never considered the impact of having to go through life with poor eye sight.
This story begins back in 2009, when optician Bijan Azami learned that close to one billion people in this world need glasses, but don’t have access to them. Initially being set back by the vastness of this problem, he became more and more determined to do something when he realised that every movement starts with one man’s dream. And why could that man not be him? He decided to dedicate one day a week to finding a solution.
Breaking down the problem, he found that there are multiple aspects to this problem. Sending money would not solve this, nor would sending glasses or opticians. Lenses need to be individually cut and fitted, which in western countries requires expensive machines, plus electricity and water. The challenge was to find a way to do eye tests anywhere and instantly put together an individual pair of glasses cheaply and by hand.
The universal design of the Two Billion Eyes glasses has no frame. This means the opticians can travel to remote locations with a box of pre-cut lenses in various strenghs (including a tiny hole on either side for assembling), do an eye test on the spot, and put together a pair of glasses by hand in less than fifteen minutes. The glasses even get an individual touch by decorating the legs with some coloured beads (to be chosen by the person who gets the glasses).
In March 2015, Bijan and a team of opticians went to Kenya. They visited several schools, and took a local woman with them to be trained in doing eye tests, assembling and repairing the glasses. For Two Billion Eyes, this was just the start (with an overwhelming response). They have gathered new insights from their trip and want to learn and grow, and help more people.
We hope Two Billion Eyes continues to grow, and we hope many more parties get involved to spread this wonderful initiative.
More information: www.twobillioneyes.org
Want to help? Two Billion Eyes is looking for expertise and volunteers. Contact them here