High-Tech Solutions Focus on Fixing Eye Problems in Developing Countries

According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. Due to the rising costs of healthcare or the unavailability of medical facilities in some developing countries, many of these defects go uncorrected. Sadly, despite the fact that 80 percent of all visual impairment can either be prevented or cured, 90 percent of the people who are visually impaired live in developing countries.

Making modern diagnostics accessible to developing nations

A key component of proper eye care is prevention. To detect eye defects of the inner eye, doctors use what’s called a fundus camera. Though a vital tool to detecting eye problems, these cameras are very costly. A fundus camera uses a specialized, low-power microscope with an attached camera to capture images of the interior surface of the eye. Typically, fundus or retinal cameras can cost anywhere from $14,000 to $20,000, preventing them from being used in many low-income areas and developing nations.

Fortunately a team of dedicated doctors, product designers and engineers are poised to change this. This team, led by Dr. Hong Sheng Chiong of OpthalmicDocs, has worked to develop a small device at small cost using a small 3D printer. It all began a year ago when Dr. Chiong was tinkering with a few lenses and fake eyes. He found that taking a retinal photograph wasn’t as straightforward as he thought it could be and set upon the task of designing one that would incorporate all three variables: the patient, the lens, and a smartphone.


With the help of Daniel and Hanna, who brought crucial expertise in 3D printing and industrial design to the table, Dr. Chiong built a fully functional prototype in biodegradable PLA, which produced amazing results. He had a 40 degree field of view of the retina and the images he was able to capture were comparable to those from any professional retinal/fundus camera. The team then improved the design and functionality of their prototype to make it more suitable for 3D printing.

The end result is a 3D printable device that converts any smartphone into a retinal camera—all for less than $40. It is called the OpthalmicDocs Fundus and the design is open-source and freely available for anyone to download and 3D print, anywhere in the world. Click here to learn more about OpthalmicDocs.


SOLIDWORKS Helps Reinvent the Prescription Lens

SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi tries on a pair of Aldens adjustable glasses designed using SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Plastics.
SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi tries on a pair of Adlens adjustable glasses designed using SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Plastics.

Recently SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi visited a SOLIDWORKS customer that has developed a self-adjustable lens, which SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi tries on a pair of Aldens adjustable glasses designed using SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Plastics.customers can adjust on their own. The customer, Adlens, has taken the centuries-old static lens design and morphed it into an adjustable solution with help from SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Plastics. So the next time you lose a contact or break your glasses, you pop on a pair of Adlens and adjust them to your own specifications, thanks to fluid-injection or sliding polycarbonate plates.

How do the glasses work? With Adlens lenses, two wave-shaped polycarbonate plates are adjusted by a knob on your frame. Moving the plates result in adjusting negative and positive power. In the case of fluid-injection, turning a knob releases fluid into the lens causing it to bow, which changes the lens’ power. Think of sitting in an optometrist chair testing lenses as they slide across your line of sight. In essence, Adlens is like administering you own vision exam.

The ability to adjust lenses to fit specific needs—without the visit to your local ophthalmologist’s office— is also a huge benefit to those without access to medical professionals, such as those who live in developing nations without adequate access to medical facilities. The company recognizes this need and has taken a philanthropic approach to business. When its customers purchase certain eyewear, the company donates a second pair to someone in need. Read more about Gian Paolo’s visit to Adlens here.


Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.