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The Role of Research in Driving Conversation, Social Equity, and Change

As a young parent, I often found myself repeating a phrase from my wonderful parents: “Because I said so.” Perhaps many of you heard it, too. As my own children grew older and more able (and willing!) to listen to facts and reasoning, our conversations became richer and less one-sided, and the ability to sway their actions in the right direction was greatly improved.

The same can be said in making the case for good vision. “Because we said so” is neither sufficient nor productive. We must provide evidence to support our claims - claims that ultimately lead to action and meaningful change. Research provides the foundation of evidence upon which we build our programs. It is the basis for our actions, whether we are creating awareness, advocating to elevate the priority of good vision, or encouraging and empowering others who are doing the same around the world.

"Research grants us the ability to provide hard data to influential advocates and government policymakers upon which to base their decisions."

The power of research lies in the fact that it is empirical. With it, we no longer need to rely on anecdotal evidence, theory or speculation. It produces examinable results, replicable methodologies and applicable knowledge for real-world situations.

It also fosters action in numerous ways, and our work at the Vision Impact Institute has most often benefited in these areas:

Research sparks timely conversations.

Over the years, we have invited associations, organizations and individuals from around the world to participate in conversations steeped in new evidence. From global NGOs, private sector contributors, universities and researchers, we’ve focused on the role of vision in the current landscape. This new evidence has served as the catalyst for timely discussions and as a springboard for future advocacy actions.

Research drives movement toward social equity.

In the context of good vision, disparities exist across social strata including gender, poverty, education and disability. Research clearly identifies a disproportionate number of women who have poor vision, often affecting their access to equal educational opportunities and continuing a cycle of poverty that might otherwise have been broken. Armed with compelling evidence, global organizations have begun including eyeglasses and quality eye care as a means to quash these inequities, so all people can achieve their human potential.

Research encourages necessary change.

As we look to research as a basis for change, we often find that more evidence is required to complete the story. In fact, research often prompts new questions and creates a call for more proof. Studies like literature and systematic reviews that identify gaps in existing evidence are often equally informative and useful as we build out a narrative through which we can advocate for behavioral, societal and policy changes.

Through our advocacy efforts around the world, we mostly find that global evidence opens the door to impactful macro-level discussions; regional and local data, however, encourage action for sustainable change.

As we continue to make the case for good vision, it is our responsibility to identify, utilize and encourage quality research. Thanks to a plethora of existing evidence and a pipeline of upcoming studies, “because I said so” can simply remain a parenting mantra for years to come.