To a child with impaired vision, it might seem like magic. You put on the glasses and turn a dial to adjust the lenses to correct the particular refractive error in your own eyes. Voilà! Instant prescription! Instant clear vision!
But it’s not magic. It’s photonics.
Specifically, these are “instant prescription eyewear” using adaptive optics, techniques that correct optical signals within a particular system.
Applications in astronomy provide a good illustration. Light coming in from space to telescopes on Earth is distorted by particles and gases in the atmosphere. Adaptive optics techniques make corrections in the final viewed image, based on analysis of what has caused the distortion, and render a clear image of what’s out there.
Joshua Silver, CEO of the Centre for Vision in the
Developing World, and Dow Corning are working to bring adaptive-optics-based eyewear
to millions of people in the developing world who have no access to vision correction
services, through an initiative called Child ViSion.
|A student at Bwindi Watoto School|
in Uganda wears Child ViSion's instant
prescription eyewear. Photo courtesy
Child ViSion estimates that 60% of young people in the developing world do not have the glasses that they need to be successful in school. The program helps tackle poor vision by distributing self-adjustable glasses, based on a fluid-filled lens technology, through school-based programs in Africa.
Members of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and participants at the society’s recent Optics + Photonics meeting in San Diego are helping, too -- to the tune of a $10,000 donation from the society.
Child ViSion was one of three philanthropic projects that were up for a vote at the event and on the SPIE website, and was awarded the top donation as a result of winning the most votes.
|ALOP facilitators in Nepal, a recent workshop site.|
Teaching the teachers
Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) workshops introduce basic optics and photonics concepts to teachers in developing countries, by pairing theoretical modules with hands-on applications and using low-cost locally available materials. Hundreds of teachers have been provided with training manuals and materials to take back to their classrooms. This SPIE donation will support teachers to attend an ALOP training in Colombia.
The trainers are dedicated volunteers, optics and photonics professors from far-flung universities who travel the world with the support of UNESCO, SPIE, ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics) and other organizations, and continually demonstrate their passion for sharing the possibilities for improving quality of life by using scientific knowledge.
Fun with lasers
|Hundreds of cheering students have it right: the Laser|
Roadshow is a great way to learn about optics.
Prismatic Magic's Laser Roadshow brings engaging laser programs to assemblies at schools with underserved populations across the United States, combining science and laser education with music and a laser animation show. The program’s mission is to enhance general awareness of how advances in optics and photonics improve quality of life and to motivate students to explore careers in optics and photonics.
Combined with educational and travel scholarships and numerous other programs, SPIE provides more than $3.2 million in support of optics and photonics education and outreach programs each year.
With the vote, the society aimed to increase awareness of just how that money is allotted, and also to give the community a voice in where the donations go.
Inspiring stories of photonics helping to make a better world!