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Working Together for Change

The past few months have been busy ones for us at the Vision Impact Institute. As we continue our focus on bringing awareness to the global impact of URE and the benefits of healthy vision, we have spent significant time with other organizations doing great work to create world-wide change in these areas.

One such organization, VOSH International, with a mission to “bring vision to every person on the planet” is correcting the eyesight of people in all areas of the world through the volunteerism of optometrists giving back to their own communities and beyond. We experienced first-hand the exciting work of Salud Digna, a non-profit that is changing the medical and visual landscape of Mexico in a multi-clinic setting. The VII continues to partner with like organizations to empower them with the evidence needed to support their ongoing advocacy efforts.

In October, I had the distinct privilege of attending the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Council of Members meeting in Beijing. The IAPB and other organizations have undertaken a bold endeavor, endorsed by the World Health Organization, to reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25% by the year 2019. In order for this to be successful, we must all work together to strengthen and implement training and education and to bolster the number of screenings happening around the world.

As part of the week’s events a press conference was held to introduce Professor Li Ling’s National Vision Care Report for China. The study focuses on lost productivity resulting from uncorrected vision, and it includes factors such as medical and rehabilitation costs, labor loss and quality of life indicators. We look forward to hosting the study on our site in the near future. I also had the privilege of presenting evidence related to China and myopia control and to make a most exciting announcement to the media in China: is now fully translated into Chinese!

Today, China is the world’s largest ophthalmic market in volume, with nearly 57 percent of its population requiring vision correction. Of the 1.39 billion people globally whose native language is Chinese, 618 million people – twice the population of the United States – are active Internet users in China. The Vision Impact Institute believes that the best way to reach this Chinese population and encourage them to get the eye exams they need is to address the issue directly in their language and through their communication medium of choice – the Internet. We will also be finalizing a translation into Portuguese by the end of 2016.

As always, our focus at the VII remains the impact of uncorrected refractive error, and it has become very clear over the past year that those organizations and parties interested in visual health are increasingly focused on URE and the prevention of avoidable blindness. As a result, I have been asked to join an IAPB working group specifically addressing URE. Just imagine what we can do together if we continue to focus on visual correction and protection, addressing the needs of the 2.5 billion uncorrected. The evidence shows we collectively could reduce the prevalence of long-term diseases like cataract and glaucoma simply by addressing the need for correction in the first place. Join us as we continue Giving Vision a Voice!