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Awareness Must Inspire Action to Make Vision Correction a Global Priority

I recently took a moment to explore awareness campaigns around the world scheduled in April, notably world health and Parkinson’s disease, IBS, and Autism. And though the list of causes each month is usually quite long and varied, organizers undoubtedly hope to receive a significant share of voice for their respective programs – each unique yet fighting for prominence in the vast media and public landscape.

At the Vision Impact Institute (VII), our mission is to raise awareness about the importance of vision correction and protection to make good vision a global priority. Those last seven words of our mission statement are the most critical, as they define our WHY.

Like many of these causes, non-profits, and programs, the VII does not seek to raise awareness in a vacuum, as a one-off effort for temporary gain. We raise awareness to a greater end daily – to elevate the priority of good vision around the world – while also giving our stakeholders and audiences access to the latest evidence to realize lasting change in our world.

Recently, a report by the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health updated critical information about the global scope of vision impairment, its economic effect on productivity, and the impacts poor vision has on our world population.

Are you aware that, in 2020:

  • More than 1 billion people still needed vision correction for distance and age-related near vision problems?

  • 510 million people just needed a pair of reading glasses to improve their vision?

  • Poor vision cost the world $411 B USD in lost productivity for workers who don’t see clearly?

  • The prevalence of myopia in Chinese children ages 6 to 8 increased because of virtual learning during the COVID-19 school closures, increased screen time and reduced outdoor time?

If you were not already aware of these statistics, you are now – and knowledge is powerful. But what will you do from here? As awareness-drivers, it is up to us to combine our efforts with a call to action. We cannot create awareness for awareness’ sake and think that we have accomplished our mission. Greater investments of time and money are needed to truly drive action for long-term changes.

At the end of 2019, two landmark reports were published, aligned in their objectives to raise awareness and expand resources for eye care around the world. While each was independently prepared by the WHO and Essilor, their complementary nature overlapped in approaches to ending uncorrected refractive error. Additionally, the Essilor report suggested an elimination model that would require investments in four key areas. Of those, awareness creation would require the second largest investment over a period of 30 years, with much of this investment made early in the process.

As we focus on raising awareness as an organization, we will continue to work with our partners and others to ensure evidence-based messages are consistently utilized to capture the attention of those who can make the greatest impact to end poor vision and its consequences. Giving vision a voice is a significant tool in our toolbox, and we encourage you to join us by raising your voice to help the world see better.