We have a lingering suspicion that Yves Béhar is more wizard than designer. After conjuring up the much-heralded $100 child’s laptop in 2006, the Fuseproject founder whipped up a tablet version that costs all of $75. For his next trick, Béhar is working with the Mexican government to offer students free, customizable corrective eyeglasses—ones that, in true Béhar fashion, are too cool for school.
As anyone who’s wrestled with myopia knows, poor eyesight can have a dramatic impact on grades. In Mexico, roughly 11 percent of students ages 6 to 18 require corrective lenses, although the number can be as high as 70 percent in states like Morellos, Sonora, and Chiappas.
In certain states in Mexico, as much as 70 percent of students require corrective lenses.
While the cost of eye exams and eyewear is one thing, the dweeb factor is quite another. “The wearing of glasses is looked at as a handicap,” notes Béhar. “This social stigma adds to the resistance to correct the problem.”
The solution? Lenses so sharp they’d make a Billyburg hipster salivate over his studiously ripped jeans.
The “See Well to Learn Better” program, which is modeled after the One Laptop Per Child initiative, takes a triple-prong approach: cost, practicality, and aesthetics. Comprising two sections that can be customized by color, shape, and size, each pair of Collección Escolar 2010 eyeglasses offers a hundred variations. Because of their ease of deconstruction and assembly, the glasses can be adjusted and updated in the field without requiring energy-intensive glazing.
Each pair can be adjusted and updated in the field without requiring energy-intensive glazing.
The eyewear, produced locally by Augen, is also designed to be indestructible. (We’re talking kids here, after all, schoolyard roughhousing and all.) Made from ultraflexible Gilamid plastic, each pair translates readily from the classroom to the soccer field.
In addition to providing free eye exams, the program aims to distribute 400,000 free pairs of glasses every year to families in need. See? Magic.