By now, we are all familiar with the recently published WHO Report on Vision that assessed the state of poor vision around the world. The report confirmed that more than two billion people have a vision impairment, many of which are preventable or remain unaddressed. Improving the current state of vision, like any other significant global problem, will require multiple solutions.
To be most effective, I believe we must adopt a top-down and bottom-up approach.
Often, sustainable change requires this type of approach. Today, cities in many parts of the world are leading efforts to influence global policies before those changes reach federal levels. Around the world, young people are championing – from the ground up – significant efforts from health reform to climate change. In fact, a group of young people known as Young Shapers of Albania, part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Hub, is building awareness about children’s need for good vision by reaching more than 15,000 children, their teachers, and families to ensure that all children have access to vision correction and protection.
These types of grassroots efforts are changing the mindsets of governments everywhere.
Through our work at the Vision Impact Institute, it’s become abundantly clear that advocating for good vision means that we must combine efforts of the highest levels of government and those that work closest to the problem.
Poor vision does not exist in a silo.
In a recent Devex article, Imran Khan from Sightsavers articulated this point clearly by saying, “There’s a lack of awareness that a child who is unable to see in a classroom is not just a health issue, but an education problem, too.”
It makes sense, then, that some of the bottom-up solutions lie with individuals working most closely with those affected by poor vision at every age – individuals like:
PARENTS AND EDUCATORS: Those closest to children are most often the first to realize that a child is struggling to see. These people can best advocate for their own children and for others by ensuring that children have a voice and subsequently receive an eye exam and glasses when needed.
BUSINESS LEADERS: With productivity loss closely tied to poor vision, companies and business owners have a stake in advocating for their employees’ vision. If a company provides on-site screenings for employees or vision health plans in their healthcare packages, solutions exist at every level.
HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS: Working together for the benefit of the whole person, medical and eye care professionals alike should be their patients’ strongest advocates. Recognizing that the benefits of an eye exam go far beyond vision correction, these caregivers have a responsibility to support each other and their patients for the best possible outcome.
As we continue taking important steps to move collectively toward the elimination of poor vision, a unified approach will create the needed momentum. Perhaps prioritizing good vision in our world requires that we search the unlikeliest places to identify those who are already leading voices for change.
As we continue advocating for the billions of people who still need vision correction, be encouraged that we do not act alone. Collectively, we move toward our common goal. Creating change has and always will require that we harness the power of AND.