Best Wishes to the VII

I remember when, in December 2012, I saw the studies and the data about vision impairment for the first time. I was taken aback by their magnitude. The consequences of uncorrected poor vision are obvious and exceed our initial estimates. The numbers are dreadful: the number of people involved (2.5 billion), the productivity losses ($272 billion annually), costs associated with children’s educational impairment, injuries to the elderly, the risks to road safety, and so much more. Beyond these costs, we have demonstrated the impact of vision impairment on society and its consequences on the quality of life for individuals.

Another surprise: these consequences are not just limited to emerging countries but also affect “mature” countries.

The media has widely reported the information from an economic angle. However, we also proved that in many cases the main barrier that prevents people from correcting their vision is not having access to solutions, rather than issues of purchasing power.

Naturally, our surprise was shared with the public authorities with whom we met. Sometimes there were doubts or questions about the studies hosted on our website. But overall, the evidence we have collected has greatly improved the general understanding of the impacts of vision impairment.

Professionals of the optical industry warmly welcomed the Vision Impact Institute’s approach. We had the opportunity to bring awareness of our findings to ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians through multiple conferences and meetings. Your support was decisive.

Before I leave the Vision Impact Institute to take on a new position, I would like to thank all of the stakeholders dealing with vision health, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, for their continued encouragement. I also thank the faithful readers of these blogs for their attention and comments. I thank Essilor for its continued support, without which this initiative would not exist.

I am also delighted to announce that Maureen Cavanagh has been appointed President of the Vision Impact Institute.  Maureen, located in Dallas Texas, comes with 23 years of optical experience in a variety of executive positions in the United States.  Most recently she was President of Nassau Vision Group and OOGP in New Jersey.  She is excited about taking on this new role and will continue to forge ahead in providing compelling evidence on the needs of making healthy vision a priority.

The task remains to persuade governments to put vision health on their agenda and to promote simple and accessible solutions. Seeing children benefit from an eye exam, giving them back a smile and the possibility of a changed life is a moment that I wish everybody could experience.

It has been an exciting mission and a real privilege to promote this great cause.

Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan