Hundreds of millions of impoverished people in the developing world are in need, many surviving on less than $1 a day
We spend billions of dollars in aid every year, providing food, education, healthcare and medicine, with most aid given in the spirit of helping people to help themselves.
But how can vision impaired people in the developing world help themselves if they cannot see properly?
The World Health Organization estimates that over 600 million people in the developing world are vision impaired
Most with little or no access to eye care or eyeglasses. Resulting impacts to work productivity, quality of life, health, education and safety are enormous.
The global economic cost of lost work productivity due to people with poor vision has been estimated at 700 billion dollars a year.
Refractive error, which eyeglasses correct, is the number one cause of vision impairment in the world.
It is also the second greatest cause of preventable blindness.
6 out of 10 people in the developed world wear glasses, contact lenses, or have had corrective eye surgery.
6 out of 10 people in the developing world are also vision impaired, but have little or no access to eye care or eyeglasses.
In North America, the ratio of optometrists to people is approximately 1: 6,000.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio of optometrists to people is approximately 1: 8,000,000.
In Malawi, Africa, one of the poorest countries on earth, the ratio of ophthalmologists (surgeons able to perform cataract surgery) to people is 4: 15,000,000.
For those who cannot see well
The world is much smaller, more isolated. Depending on their degree of vision impairment, daily tasks are more difficult, accidents more frequent, even life expectancies are shorter. Holding a job, finding enough food, learning how to read, and looking after a family may be impossibilities.
The two greatest obstacles faced by impoverished people in the developing world who suffer from uncorrected refractive error (which eyeglasses correct)
Severe shortages of eye care professionals and the cost of purchasing glasses. Optometrists, trained to assess eyesight and dispense corrective eyewear, are extremely few. Most are urban based and inaccessible to a majority of people living in rural, often remote areas. For impoverished trying to feed, clothe and shelter themselves on less than a $1 a day, purchasing corrective eyewear is an impossibility.
In the western world, we take vision for granted
We think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars for eyeglasses, contact lenses or corrective eye surgery. Good eyesight for us is essential as it affects every aspect of our waking lives.
It is equally essential for hundreds of millions of people in developing world countries who need glasses but don’t have them. Poor eyesight for them can mean the difference between working and not working, gathering enough food or going hungry, being able to read or remaining illiterate.
Unless the problem of uncorrected refractive error in the developing world is addressed
Healthcare measurements adopted by the World Health Organization show that by 2030 refractive error is set to surpass HIV/AIDS as one of the top ten health issues affecting opportunities and work productivity.
Are there solutions?
Yes! The world has the resources and technologies to correct this problem now. With your help. Solutions in sight