OneDollarGlasses – Restoring sight to the world

There are approximately 150 million people across the world who need glasses. They simply can’t afford them.

OneDollarGlasses is an organisation which is working hard to ensure that every child, adult and senior citizen who needs glasses will get a pair.

One Dollar Glasses a
Girl with OneDollarGlasses | © Martin Aufmuth – OneDollarGlasses

Using an ingenious and progressive design, OneDollarGlasses have developed a pair of spectacles which “consist of a lightweight, flexible spring steel frame and prefab lenses and can be locally manufactured with simple bending machines.”

The organisation was founded in 2012 by Martin Aufmuth and its headquarters is based in Erlangen, Germany.

Inspiration his Aufmuth when he read a poem by Paul Polak, which lamented the lack of access to glasses and sight services available to the world’s poorest people. Something about the poem (entitled Out of Poverty) stuck with him, and he was even more disturbed when he saw glasses for sale in his local dollar store. Aufmuth wondered; “Why can glasses for 1 Euro be bought in a rich country like Germany whilst in poor countries it is not possible?

And therein began his mission.

Martin Aufmuth with a happy patient during the shooting in Malawi | © Jonas Chen

This was back in 2009, and it took several years to develop a satisfactory pair of glasses which could be created on such a tight budget. Miraculously, however, it was achieved. Martin Aufmuth found himself in Africa in 2012, putting them to the test.

He was pensive as he made his way to Kasana. He brought with him “three bending machines, several kilos of spring steel wire, heat shrink tubing and beads“, but was worried that no-one would have any interest in his invention. Perhaps he had wasted all of those years experimenting with prototypes in his laundry room?

800 people turned up to meet him on that day in March, 2013. It now was safe to assume that there was more than a little interest in the project. A few months later, OneDollarGlasses was established as a registered charity.

Since then, OneDollarGlasses has gone from strength to strength. It has worked all across the world in places such as Brazil, Bolivia, Malawi and Rwanda. Momentum is gaining all the time and, with it, the acknowledgement has come. In November 11, 2015, the OneDollarGlasses Association was the recipient of a prestigious Tech Award in San Jose, California (USA). An account of this, as well as many of the success stories, can be found on their official website.

Contact [email protected] for more information about this amazing charity. Donate Now >> if you feel like helping out with the project.


Colin J McCracken
Colin J McCracken

Director and Executive Editor

Colin J McCracken is an Irish editor and writer of both fiction and journalism. Coming from a background in education and film, his passions are split between the environmental and the entertaining. Constantly striving for a more sustainable existence and trying to balance it while simultaneously buying too many books.