At the recent World Economic Forum in China, EYElliance, a coalition of public, private and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) released a report outlining how the outlook for the world population’s vision is dimming unless major changes are made. The Vision Impact Institute was pleased to be the leading research partner for this project.
Eyeglasses for Global Development: Bridging the Visual Divide is a comprehensive assessment of how eyeglasses can dramatically improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. The numbers tell the story. According to estimates from Essilor and the World Health Organization, 4.2 billion people have poor vision and need eyeglasses around the globe, however 2.5 billion of them are still uncorrected and 624 million can be categorized as visually impaired or blind.
For people in developed countries, it’s hard to fathom not having an eye doctor nearby or an optical shop on the corner. But, according to the report, 80 percent of those with poor vision live in less developed countries without the vision care others may take for granted.
The report outlines numerous benefits of corrected vision, including:
Improved academic performance, which could be the gateway out of poverty for millions of young people in poorer nations
Increased productivity, especially for the working poor
Extended time in the workforce, leading to more earned wages
Positive impact on economic performance for countries around the globe
Added safety for driving
Providing eyeglasses to children is identified as a “high impact investment” because of the many returns that this single device delivers. Research has shown that proper prescription eyeglasses have a greater impact on a child’s academic performance than any other health intervention.
The EYElliance is calling for a multi-faceted approach from governments, NGOs, the healthcare community and the private sector to overcome the problem. For example, ministers of health and education can collaborate to support integration of eye health programs into existing school healthcare programs, then work with the finance community and international donors to fund eye exams and free or subsidized eyeglasses for children in need.
This new report is filled with important information about a growing health issue. While the good news is that a simple pair of eyeglasses can drastically improve a person’s quality of life, the size of the need is staggering. By working together, the eye health community, private sector, NGOs and governments can find solutions. We, at the Vision Impact Institute, are continuing to elevate compelling research, like studies highlighted in this report. As we make others aware of this powerful evidence and advocate for action, we will continue Giving Vision a Voice.