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Program Gives Low-Cost Glasses to Rwandans



For VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

Most people in developed countries have no problems getting prescription eyeglasses. They go to an ophthalmologist -- a trained specialist who treats problems and diseases of the eye. They may receive a prescription, which gives the patient permission to buy and use eyeglasses. But in poor countries like Rwanda, it may take a lot more time, effort and money.

Rwanda has only 14 ophthalmologists to serve the country’s 11 million people. But now, a British-based group is helping up to 1 million Rwandans with poor eyesight. The group is called Vision for a Nation. It will soon start testing new eyeglasses that wearers can adjust, or change, to improve their eyesight.

James Chen set up Vision for a Nation. He says Rwanda is one nation where there is a great need for the glasses, especially among schoolchildren. Most of the Rwandans need simple reading glasses. They also might be able to use adjustable glasses.

James Chen is the founder of the eyewear manufacturer Adlens. The company produces two kinds of special adjustable glasses. Mr. Chen says they are easy to use and have a wide range of magnifications, which makes something look bigger. He says his company has two kinds of technologies for adjustable glasses. Thanks to the World Bank, Rwandans will pay only about $1.50 for these glasses. But that amount is still about three days' wages in their country. Vision for a Nation might also provide a similar service in other countries.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.

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