Unpacking the research……
2.5 Billion people live with poor vision
More than 600 million are classified as visually impaired or blind
80% of these people live in low resource nations
80% of learning occurs through vision
239 million children have myopia (short sightedness)
$227 billion economic lost annually due to lost productivity from adults needing glasses
* From The EYElliance’s publication: “Eyeglasses for Global Development: Bridging the Digital Divide”(You can download the complete report here) https://eyelliance.org/more/executive-summary/
With so many people needing basic vision care around the globe it may seem overwhelming; but like so many other enormous problems in the world, it can be solved. Think about how we – as a global community – have tackled malaria, famine, HIV, Polio and many other epidemics. The problem is identified, brought to the forefront of governments, NGOs, and the commercial sector; partnerships are developed and solutions are deployed.
Over the past two decades – the last 14 years of which Kevin has been involved – the move toward solving the epidemic of bad vision has made great strides. Thinking solely about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals makes it abundantly clear how important good vision is to meet many of them.
Goal #1: no poverty – if people can’t see, how can they work?
Goal #3: good health and well being for people – clearly vision is a part of good health and improving one’s quality of life.
Goal #4: Quality education – that’s tough to get without clear eyesight.
And the list goes on. There are 17 goals and good vision is either directly or indirectly related to many of them.
Clear vision matters. Without it, one’s ability to prosper in education and work is hindered. That is why just this week we are involved in two very different projects that both center on education.
Greg Wiens, our Faith Based Programs Coordinator is currently in Israel and the West Bank providing training to teachers so that vision screening in schools can begin.
And Kevin White is in Hanoi with our Advisor Dr. Bruce Moore to train optometry students in the use of the USee. From there, the Hanoi Medical University and students will develop a methodology to determine if it is possible to screen children as young as 7 with the USee.
Opening up that age bracket (we currently advise trained refractionists not to screen children under 12) would clearly benefit a segment of the child population currently not getting basic screening in large parts of the world.
Understanding how the epidemic of bad vision compounds so many other facets of the world economy, and just as importantly, a person’s quality of life, we are determined to work with partners and other organizations to solve this problem.
It is not insurmountable. It is feasible, especially with global partners willing to face the facts.