From Solution to High Impact Investment

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” While this quote has been attributed to numerous people in the past, including Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Henry Ford, its meaning remains the same regardless of its origin. We cannot continue to do business as usual if we expect to see progress from our efforts.

Today, 2.5 billion people in the world still need vision correction and a large portion of those people are unaware that there is an existing solution to their problem. In fact, many do not even know they have a problem. When children have vision issues, they are often unaware that they see differently from those around them; yet, today, 239 million children around the world could benefit from a pair of eyeglasses.

The World Economic Forum identifies eyeglasses as a “high impact investment” – one that could lead to many returns. With corrective lenses, children’s performance in the classroom can and does improve. In fact, a recent study in China shows students who wore glasses for one year earned higher test scores, equivalent to six months of additional schooling, with historically under-performing students benefitting the most from vision correction.

The question is how do we take a known solution, eyeglasses, and turn it into a high impact investment – one that will impact the future of children, and in turn, the world. In my opinion, we cannot change the way the world sees and protects its eyes without increasing awareness of the problem and the solution, advocating to change the priority of vision in health care, creating innovative channels that allow access to eye care solutions, and continuing to provide affordable eye wear to those who need it. And no one person or organization can do this alone!

In April, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, under the “Vision for the Commonwealth” banner, called on Commonwealth leaders to bring vision to everyone, everywhere and for each of the 53 commonwealth countries to commit to taking one significant action by 2020 towards that goal. In addition, the organization established the $1 billion Vision Catalyst Fund, which aims to help governments to prioritize vision and to tackle avoidable blindness and poor eyesight. In doing so, this coalition of partners will transform the lives of millions of people.

Through initiatives like this one, all four levels of change are being addressed: awareness, advocacy, access and affordability. Today, each of us has something we can do to help children around the world see.

Like the Vision for the Commonwealth program and so many others leading the charge for change, I encourage each of us to take one significant action for children’s vision.  It’s up to us to help give children’s vision a voice.

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