On World Sight Day, 12 October, the Clearly Campaign revealed that Asia accounts for six of the top ten worst affected countries where people suffer needlessly from poor vision—China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, with 720million sight impaired people in China and 477million in India.
A third of the world’s population—2.5 billion people—have poor vision and no access to glasses and therefore less access to education and knowledge; Hong Kong businessman and philanthropist James Chen aims to put this right so folks can reach their potential in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.Chen’s vision is vision for everyone; the Clearly research underlines a global lack of eye-care is costing the world an estimated 3 trillion dollars a year but this is an issue that leaders have forgotten, there is no mention of sight in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
James Chen, founder of Clearly, intends to build on the success of his collaboration between his UK charity ‘Vision for a Nation’ and the Rwandan Government that has established a sustainable nationwide Primary Eye Care system. The Rwanda programme has shown that ending poor vision is possible, having become the first developing country to provide all its 11.8 million citizens with local access to affordable eye care. This year Rwanda passed the milestone of screening 2 million people in under 5 years.James Chen said “Nearly half a billion people in India struggle with poor vision…All that most people need is access to a simple pair of glasses—a solution invented 700 years ago, costing as little as $1 to produce, and yet billions are denied it.By tackling poor vision, we can transform the lives of so many. Good vision helps with education, and achieving greater prosperity and gender equality. We know that success is possible. In Rwanda where I set up a charity ‘Vision for a Nation’ six years ago universal eye care has been delivered and two million people have had their eyes screened. We want the Government of India to prioritise poor vision and help to put it on the agenda of the Commonwealth Summit next year.”
The report collated data from across India and studied respectable Indian academic sources, the studies on males/ females of 7 years and above occurred in Andhra Pradesh.
James Chen’s new book, also called Clearly, outlines a roadmap for how success in Rwanda could be emulated in other countries, Chen has received support and endorsement from the political and development community.
The Clearly campaign has now united with five leading eye care organisations to eliminate visual impairmentto form “Vision for the Commonwealth” with the common goal to end avoidable blindness and poor vision across the Commonwealth.