Updated Jul 21, 2021
Economic Growth and Trade, Education and Health
Economic Growth and Trade, Education and HealthSEE LESS
Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and 35 MoreSEE ALL
Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Cambodia, Bolivia, Benin, South Sudan, Nepal, Paraguay, Senegal, El Salvador, Indonesia, South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Democratic Republic of the, Malawi, Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Belize, Tanzania, Mozambique, Morocco, Cameroon, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, India, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Vanuatu, Zambia, Rwanda, Nicaragua and MaliSEE LESS
Globally 2.5 billion people do not have the glasses they need to work, learn, be safe on roads, and participate in civic life. Lack of clear vision has socio-economic consequences: uncorrected vision costs the global economy more than $200 billion with low-income individuals most affected by this loss. Nevertheless, optical correction rates in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are as low as 10%.
Vision correcting glasses – whether simple readers or prescription glasses – can solve this 2.5 billion-person problem. When livelihoods depend on seeing clearly, uncorrected vision can force an otherwise capable person to prematurely stop working. Given that the global population is aging, health strategies that support productive employment and extend working years among older workers are timely. Uncorrected vision affects worker livelihoods and income earning potential by inhibiting their ability to: • Maintain their productivity and meet production schedules • Meet quality standards and produce defect-free products • Qualify for performance pay and skill upgrades • Pass skills and aptitude testing associated with hiring processes. Additionally, a Randomized Trial showed that glasses affect worker productivity. Results showed that providing reading glasses to rural tea pickers in India increased the daily weight of tea picked by over 5 kg/day. This represented a 22% average productivity increase: the largest increase in productivity due to a health intervention ever recorded in a trial. Blurry vision also: • impedes participation in the mobile economy and financial services • reduces quality of life associated with reading, cooking, child care, and civic engagement • heightens the risk of accidents associated with driving and road safety, as well as other hazards Despite the opportunity to have a huge impact on the global economy and the working poor, today’s optical market fails to meet the needs of low-income consumers in emerging markets due to both demand and supply issues. 1.1 billion people over 35 years old have age-related, blurry near vision (presbyopia) which can be safely, effectively, and inexpensively treated with glasses available in US drugstores and which VisionSpring can source for $1. Uncorrected refractive error (URE), a major cause of vision impairment that can cause blindness, requires prescription glasses that VS can source for $3.50.
Ella Gudwin is CEO of VisionSpring. Under her leadership, VisionSpring has tripled its impact and the global team that is tracking to sell 10 million pairs of radically affordable eyeglasses in emerging and frontier markets, creating $2.16 billion in increased earning potential at the household level. Before joining VisionSpring in 2015, Ella was senior vice president of strategy and program development at the global health organization AmeriCares. In prior roles, Ella led humanitarian operations as vice president of emergency response and managed access to medicine and health care capacity building programs in ten countries as director of Asia and Eurasia partnerships. Earlier in her career, Ella served as the head of Foreign Government Relations at the Population Council, focused on reproductive health, youth, and poverty. Her passions for social justice and economic development issues took root in Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis and the ensuing people power revolution. In addition to Ella, the VisionSpring team includes staff at the field level from countries where we operate.
EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN