For the first time the organisers of the Designs of the Year award has invited the public to vote for their favourite design, which this year has gone to Child ViSion – glasses designed for 12 to 18 years olds that enable the wearer to tweak the lenses until they can see clearly.

Child ViSion is the brainchild of Professor Joshua Silver, who founded the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) in Oxford, UK. Having invented the original self-adjustable, fluid-filled eyeglasses for adults, Adspecs, he wanted to specifically focus on glasses for younger wearers.

Based on the limited data that is available, the CVDW estimates that there are over 100 million young people aged between 12 and 18 in the developing world who suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness. Of these, it is believed that roughly 60 million lack access to the accurate vision correction that they need. In order to address this, Silver has invented simple and intuitive glasses.

The glasses contain special lenses composed of clear membranes that are filled with silicone fluid, which has been created by Dow Corning, a global silicones supplier. With a power range of 0 to -5 diopters, users are able to adjust the lens power by turning a dial on each arm of the glasses. This adds or removes the fluid until the user can see most clearly. The adjusters are then detached, leaving a conventional-looking pair of glasses.

Silver teamed up with London-based industrial design consultancy, Goodwin Hartshorn, who worked in collaboration with the CVDW design team on every aspect of the design. The glasses have straight, lightly springy arms and fit a variety of ages and facial types. A compact adjuster was developed incorporating a novel sealing mechanism to make removal of the adjusters easy and intuitive.

“The CVDW has had some extremely talented engineers and designers working on our Child ViSion Glasses, and our challenge now is to get these glasses to the tens of millions of children whose education is hampered by their inability to see a blackboard in class clearly – a problem our self-refraction glasses will solve,” explains Silver.

Since June, visitors to the Designs of the Year exhibition at London’s Design Museum have been voting for their favourite designs from the 99 nominations in a pop-up polling station. The official Design of the Year Winner 2013 was awarded to GOV.UK, a website designed by the UK’s Government Digital Service. However, the organisers felt it would allow visitors to cast their vote, as well, in the inaugural Visitor Vote. Child ViSion won with 486 votes.

“We are delighted to have won the Visitor Vote,” says Silver. “There are two aspects to eyewear. First, it has to function properly and give you clear vision, but, equally important, it also has to look good! It’s great that the public have taken this design to their hearts and voted us their design of the year.”

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