Christian optometry mission to the developing world

Bespoke Specs

Correcting Complex Refractive Error

It has always been a concern to us that we have not been able to correct complex refractive errors when working in the remote regions of Africa. For this reason a portable frame and lens system has been developed which enables us to help many more people who suffer from high levels of astigmatism and anisometropia. Here is a short video which demonstrates how the system works.

Bespoke spectacles for the correction of astigmatism prove a great hit in Mozambique

As featured in Optician magazine.

In October 2011, Mission for Vision tested a new specially-designed spectacle and lens concept, developed by dispensing optician Ian Squire. The system allowed for the correction of astigmatism and anisometropia with cylindrical powers up to 4.00D and spherical powers to +/- 12.00D.

The 40mm round eye frames allow for easy accurate axis orientation and were manufactured with three different bridge sizes, providing three pupil distance options: 60, 64 and 68mm. The frames have been developed with a small locking pin in the rim at the nasal point, which prevents the lenses from rotating and helps to locate the lenses in the frames with the correct axis direction. Twelve hundred 40mm diameter pre-cut and bevelled hard coated CR39 lenses make up the lens bank and easily fit with the frames into a single suitcase making it ultra portable, enabling accurate dispensing in virtually any location. A small battery-powered groove cutter has been developed to position the groove for the locking pin at the correct location on the lens.

Considering that the glasses were developed to be used as a last resort and were not designed with fashion in mind, there was a very positive response – and once the visual benefits were realised the people accepted them gladly. The demand for the glasses in Mozambique was around 10% of those tested, which certainly made it a worthwhile addition to the spectacle range and in all we dispensed 55 pairs in five days of testing. With practise, the spectacles took only 10 minutes to assemble and the patients enjoyed the attention to detail as they watched them being made up. The frames are available in two colours: bronze/tortoiseshell and gold.

Once the lens and frame bank has been paid for, the ongoing costs are relatively small as it is just a matter of topping up. There are also plans to increase the range to include cylindrical powers to 6.00 D. The average cost to produce each glazed pair is around £2.80 to £5.00, depending on the prescription, which when considering the enormous improvement to visual acuity for the patient is excellent value, to put it mildly.