I remember when I first became aware that poor vision affects significantly more women than men, yet the number of women receiving and benefiting from vision correction is fewer. It also surprised me to note that this reality was not limited to developing countries but was a challenge faced by even the highest-income geographies. I wanted to understand why this imbalance still exists today. I must admit, some of the reasons our world’s women and girls are still struggling to see clearly truly disappoint me. They should disappoint us all.
When recent studies show that girls in some countries do not wear glasses to correct their vision because their parents oppose it, we are clearly missing the mark. When teenagers, mostly female, are refusing to wear eyewear that will make them more effective because they are wrongly taught they will be less attractive to others, we need to reassess our priorities. When we are celebrating that a female news anchor was “allowed” to wear her eyeglasses on air for the first time in history as a sign of progress, we have much work to do to create balance for better. Stigmas around girls and women wearing spectacles are still alive and well in 2019, and countries with multi-cultural populations are challenged by finding balance for girls’ vision.
The Vision Impact Institute is working with partners around the world to ensure that children (both boys and girls) have early, equal access to vision care. If a young girl cannot see well, we are hindering her ability to learn from the beginning. If we as an industry of like-minded individuals from many different organizations give girls and women the chance to see well, they will have a better chance at life – from education to employment to providing for their families for years to come.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and continue the discussion about vision’s role throughout the month of March and beyond, we want to remind women (and men) globally that wearing spectacles for vision correction does not show the world that you are defective – it proves to the world that you can be effective!
Join me – and many other women – as we tell the world what seeing well helps us do best. Throughout the month, we will be sharing stories about women and girls around the world who overcame barriers and stigmas to wear eyeglasses and positively impact the world around them.
So, tell us your story: “Because I can see well, I can _____.”