If the 2.5 billion people in the world suffering from poor vision but lacking access to the solution were given eyeglasses, the returns in educational and economic terms would be huge. This is what suggests a recent report by the World Economic Forum and EYElliance titled “Eyeglasses for Global Development: Bridging the Visual Divide.” According to the report, providing those 2.5 billion people in need with eyeglasses could unlock more than $225 billion in annual global growth.
Without rapid action, the negative economic, educational and social impact of poor vision could even escalate, with 50 percent of the world's population, and up to 65 percent in East Asia, expected to suffer from myopia by 2050. In 2015, only 8 million pairs of glasses were distributed by NGOs and inclusive businesses, and $37 million or 2 cents per affected person were spent to address the problem.
The report features new data highlighting the scale of the world's visual divide, and provides a set of recommendations for governments and businesses that are interested in helping to address this global challenge. Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, is the lead signatory of the report. Among the many prominent signatories of the document is also The Honorable Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009, the first Chinese American ever appointed to the President's cabinet in American history.
EYElliance is a new multi-stakeholder global coalition dedicated to increasing access to eyeglasses. EYElliance does not deliver eyeglasses directly but promotes increased coordination among NGOs and facilitates cross-sector collaboration to accelerate development.