$1 Eyeglass In 20 Minutes: This German Teacher Has Helped 1,00,000 People See Better

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Would you believe if someone tells you that one can get a pair of perfectly functional eyeglasses in under Rs 250 – Rs 300 and that too within just 20 minutes? It might sound a fictitious claim for the urban person accustomed to waiting days for getting a pair of fancy spectacles. But, German teacher Martin Aufmuth has invented this technology under the name EinDollarBrille (One Dollar Glasses) to aid millions all over the world. It includes a simple portable box, with a few manually operated pieces of equipment made from scratch. The set-up allows simultaneous eye power testing as well as preparing an eyeglass in no time. In fact, at a time four to five eyeglasses can be produced with absolute finesse. Both the outer box and the glasses are highly durable, and the lenses can be easily removed and altered after a few years of rigorous use.

Mobile opticians` equipment

Away from all the limelight, lakhs of underprivileged people in over eight developing countries of the world are now able to see better, thanks to his patented innovation.

For the privileged section of society, spectacles have become an integral component of everyday life. But, unknown to many, there are more than 150 million people in the world at present who are in dire need of eyeglasses but fail to afford the same. One Dollar Glasses has intervened as a saviour among this disadvantaged section of the population in countries of Africa, South America, China and India. Invented in 2012, the cutting-edge technology has benefitted over 1,00,000 individuals, children, adults and seniors alike, till date.

One Dollar Glasses in India – Care Netram

About a year and a half ago, One Dollar Glasses was launched in India under the name ‘Care Netram’. Working in the villages of Odisha, they have so far made more than 3000 glasses and offered free eye tests to over 10,000 individuals.

Free Eye Screening and Glass distribution for school students at Panchupalli High School in Odisha by Care Netram Team.

The organisation is also generating employment among the rural youth, especially for women by training them to be opticians and delegating them on a door-to-door mission to deliver these low-cost eyeglasses. In 2017, when Aufmuth’s organisation decided to implement the technology in the rural hinterlands of India, they collaborated with 2Coms Private Limited, a skill-development agency for the youth. Together they co-founded Care Netram, with the joint objective to empower the rural youth alongside allowing the technology to penetrate the lives of the poor and needy.

Helping them see better while creating jobs

Talking to Efforts For Good, Piyush Khetan, the Vice President of Care Netram India, elaborated their unique working procedure. “We have recruited a core team of qualified eye experts. They identify young, dedicated women and men from villages and train them to be optometrists and opticians,” he informs.

For a year, these youths undergo meticulous training according to the international course curriculum designed by One Dollar Glasses. They are then sent door to door, to conduct free eye check-ups. The patients with eye power are immediately furnished with brand new eyeglasses on the spot. “These people are helpless; they know their eyesight is weakening, but don’t know where to go. Most of the time, the frames and lenses are well beyond their means. Now, they are getting a free eye check-up and instant eyeglasses at their doorstep, all within 300 rupees,” reveals Khetan.

Trainee opticians at Netram

If a senior person is diagnosed with cataract, glaucoma or other eye conditions, the optometrists refer them to the nearest hospital or eye clinic. “We have tie-ups with local hospitals and healthcare centres, where they can get surgery at minimal expense. We have referred around 400 cataract patients so far,” shares Khetan.

Speaking about how they are empowering the village women, he narrates, “We approached women self-help groups active in these villages and offered the women to be trained as opticians. Now we have a majority of expert women opticians in our team. Our first graduate, Kaushalya, now trains other women in the craft.”

“We have also organised more than 250 free eye camps. Right now, our work is centred in Odisha, but we have plans to venture all over India in the days to come,” he adds.

One Dollar Glasses around the world

In Malawi, Africa, One Dollar Glasses has achieved remarkable success in reversing the increasing trend of school dropouts. Many children were quitting school abruptly because of their deteriorating eyesight until One Dollar Glasses team started visiting the schools. Now, hundreds of students are getting glasses within minutes at a minimal price, which can last them for the next few years.

In Burkina Faso, another African nation, the organisation recently touched the milestone of 10,000 glasses among the citizens. In China, Jonas Chen and Zhang have adopted the One Dollar Glasses technology and improvised it with their own acumen to suit the cold working weather in South China. The eyeglasses have also debuted in Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland and are gaining rapid popularity.

Who is Martin Aufmuth

For Martin Aufmuth, this is not the first philanthropic venture. The changemaker is also known for his erstwhile projects – BallonMillion and Climate Protection Project. For the former, he launched a global crowdfunding programme to collect one million euros for The Hunger Project. Through the latter, more than 45,000 children and teenagers reduced over 40,000 tonnes of CO2, by adopting various eco-friendly initiatives.

Left: Martin Aufmuth

But, at any time, One Dollar Glasses stands out to be his landmark innovation and its benefits are expected to penetrate more lives throughout the world.

Also Read: In Rural Rajasthan, Mobile Dental Vans Are Offering Free Treatment & Preventing Oral Cancer

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