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Low-Cost Prescription Eyeglass Lens Fabricator, Saul Griffith, 2001–2004

Experts estimate there are between 285 million and one billion people worldwide who are visually impaired, a significant number of whom cannot afford prescription eyeglasses. The problem hit home for Saul Griffith during his first year in graduate school at MIT. In 2001, Griffith went to Guyana with the Midland, Texas Lions Club to help distribute eyeglasses. It was rare to find a match, and often the frames were wholly inappropriate. Out of his frustration, Griffith invented a simple lens molder that could make prescription lenses on the spot. He won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize in 2004, noting that “winning...was a wonderful windfall in my final year of graduate school prior to starting my own company. The good press was extremely valuable as was the large number of interesting people I met through the process in expanding my professional network.” Griffith has an amazing knack for transforming his growing personal fame into a sharply focused effort to promote environmentally, politically, and culturally sensitive inventions and designs. Likewise, the acclaimed Lemelson-MIT program is an exemplar of campus programs that nurture and celebrate inventors who turn “ideas into accomplishments.”

Low-Cost Prescription Eyeglass Lens Fabricator
Saul Griffith
Loan from Saul Griffith.

photo: courtesy of Lemelson-MIT Program and Saul Griffith

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