Seeing Beyond What We Know in 2021
For hundreds of years, we’ve known that the solution to eliminating correctable poor vision lies in ensuring access to a pair of eyeglasses or, in some cases, necessary surgical interventions. In many parts of the world, people have access to solutions, yet for any number of reasons, the problem still has not improved. While, in other areas of the world, there is limited to no access, and good vision is understandably still under prioritized. So what does this global reaction have in common?
At the start of this new year, perhaps we should take inventory of what we know today:
- We have eyeglasses that correct vision problems – and they are the simplest solution to one of the world’s most widespread and often unaddressed disabilities. Even better, they are available in most places at every price point in order to ensure people can find affordable solutions to their problems.
- We have eye care professionals addressing all levels of care – from trained rural refractionists to opticians to ophthalmologists – yet, of course, we must continue to grow this number in order to meet the growing demand.
- We have deployment strategies and supply chains that ensure eyeglasses are delivered to people in all corners of the world. Today, more than ever, digital solutions to delivery play a significant role in the access story.
- And finally, we have philanthropic organizations that meet the needs of those most vulnerable and remote.
Most of us agree that the barriers to good vision lie in the following four areas: Access, Affordability, Awareness, and Acceptance. And as individual organizations in the sector, most of us have already created proven successful models to address the Access and Affordability barriers. Perhaps our greatest barrier then lies in the fact that the world in which we live is still unaware that better lives – learning, working, driving, aging – can be achieved through better sight.
While individual eye care leaders have created successful efforts to address the Awareness barrier, as a sector, we still find ourselves speaking in disparate voices about the very same problem. Can we agree in 2021 that we must come together as a unified voice to reach a world in need of good vision?
As we go one step better than 2020 this year, I firmly believe we have the solution already in hand – and YOU are part of it. Collaboration, innovation, and sustainability will be the tools of our trade going forward.
In 2021, let’s seek out opportunities to join coalitions and partner with those dedicated to breaking down stigmas, addressing awareness and advocacy, and supporting proven best practices at scale. If we continue on individual pathways, we will certainly find ourselves having this same conversation in years to come.
Just as the year ended, Kristan Gross was hosted by the India Vision Institute with host Vinod Daniel, CEO and Managing Trustee. The video below captured the many points about vision research and data-based advocacy in vision care and the Vision Impact Institute’s role over the years.