In a divided world it’s oftentimes easy to think that a problem on one side of the globe does not impact people on the other. But with vision that’s just not the case. Almost every person on the planet, at some point, will have eyesight that is affected by acuity, age, disease. It’s a story that most of us will share over a lifetime.
Today, more than 1.1 billion people worldwide have near vision issues, and 55 percent of the visually impaired population is female. The prevalence of myopia and high myopia are increasing at alarming rates, even in developed countries. So imagine the impact a shared solution to the vision problem could have on our world as we know it.
At this year’s World Economic Forum, the theme was Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World. The Forum focused on so many aspects of our global agenda, and healthcare took its rightful place on the world’s stage. Interestingly, as part of the program, this quote emerged: “The challenges of today can blind us to the opportunities of tomorrow. How can envisioning possible futures inspire us to build a shared narrative about the world we want?”
Today, refractive errors are the leading cause of vision impairment, and we know that approximately 80 percent of vision impairment can be corrected or avoided. Yet as an industry, we are still trying to organize ourselves (often individually) around providing this simple solution. We all know the story, and we also know the right answer.
Can we then envision the world we want for the future – free of impaired vision – and work together on today’s challenges – creating awareness and providing access to people who need this shared solution?
This week, I have met with organizations like Vision 20/20 India and others that have been working diligently in India to affect the shared narrative around vision health. They are striving to make a difference by collaborating with like-minded stakeholders around the simple solution of making vision care a priority. It’s not easy work, but they persevere. It renews my hope in our ability to shape the world we envision for the future.
As I leave India this week for other parts of Asia to meet with global partners who envision a changed world where vision health is paramount, I’m encouraged by these collaborations and challenged to continue working towards a shared solution. Together we can be the impact that changes the world for good – one pair of eyes at a time.