Uncorrected poor eyesight is a pervasive global problem that affects far more than 1 billion individuals directly, and a multiple of that number indirectly when considering the impact on families and communities. These people have no access to glasses, let alone optometrists or opticians. 80% of these people are concentrated in only 20 countries - and it’s the poorest populations that suffer the most.
Poor vision is a very real barrier that prevents people from learning, working, and even socializing. Entire families become trapped in poverty, and children are locked into a lifetime of disadvantage and lower quality of life.
And this problem is not going away - it’s getting worse as the global population increases and ages. One estimate suggests that the number of people with uncorrected poor vision will triple by 2050, which means tripling the level of human suffering within the next 30 years.
The leading cause of visual impairment worldwide is uncorrected refractive error that happens when the eye isn’t able to refract (bend) light correctly, causing blurred vision. The good news is that it is relatively easy to compensate for refractive error: a simple pair of glasses is all it takes. A pair of glasses instantly gives people the chance to improve their life by allowing them to pursue life-changing educational, health, social and livelihood opportunities.
The impact on a local economy is often tremendous - but usually ignored. On an aggregate basis, the global cost of vision loss is over $3 trillion per year, which includes roughly $200 billion per year in lost productivity. Fixing this one problem would have a transformative effect on the economies of poor communities around the world.
The good news is that even a small investment can have a major impact. It’s estimated that $1 invested in a child’s eyesight returns more than $150 over the lifetime of the child. Another study suggests that $1 invested into a pair of glasses, immediately creates nearly $25 of economic impact. These returns on investment dwarf the venture capital "dream returns" of 10x their initial investment... it's worth investing into glasses!
It’s a tremendously hard problem to solve. Many have tried (and we give credit where credit’s due), but none have truly succeeded. Their solutions are too complex or too costly to scale globally. And none are sustainable. Until now.
Lens complexity drives costs up and reliability down (e.g. self-adjustable lenses)
Complex frame manipulation (e.g. expensive machine required in the field)
No self-prescription (i.e. lack of optometrists is a bottleneck)
Complexity adds huge costs (e.g. recycling glasses from the developed world)
Everyone wants to look good - no matter the level of income