20 Years of Clear Vision: A Blog Series Celebrating RestoringVision’s Leaders, Partners, and Supporters

By Stephanie Godward, Director of Marketing and Communications, RestoringVision

RestoringVision is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. As part of our celebration, we present a new blog series honoring and recognizing our board members, partners, and leaders who have helped to advance our mission to empower millions of people across the globe annually with clear vision. This is the second in our new series: 20 Years of Clear Vision.

Jayanth Bhuvaraghan spent his career serving as a bold leader in the corporate sector, and his global leadership continues as he remains committed to the cause of clear vision for all people worldwide, no matter their location or income level.

“Good vision is a must for global development. We cannot advance global development without clear vision,” Bhuvaraghan said. “When we look at the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we can see that vision is essential to succeed in these goals. That is at a very fundamental level. Good vision is a necessity to advance global health, education, and economic opportunities. How can we have good education without clear vision, or gender equality when women are less able to access or afford eyeglasses? Although vision is not yet one of the goals, it is present in each one.”

Bhuvaraghan spent 25 years of his career working for the world’s largest lens manufacturer, Essilor International. As the company’s first Chief Mission Officer, Jayanth is credited with many firsts, and is well-known and respected as a top management practitioner of Corporate Purpose and Sustainability, Inclusive Businesses in the world. During his last ten years at the company, Bhuvaraghan focused on reaching people with uncorrected refractive error while building sustainable access to vision services and eyeglasses for people in need worldwide.

“There was an inner voice telling me that this is my true personal purpose. I continue to stay focused on building access for people who are disadvantaged with the dream of bringing universal eyecare all over the world,” Bhuvaraghan said.

He continues this work today through his role as a member of the Board of Directors at RestoringVision, an organization dedicated to solving the global vision crisis in which over one billion people across the globe have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. 90% live in impoverished communities without the ability to access or afford eyeglasses. 826 million or 81% only need a pair of reading glasses to see clearly today.

“The beauty of this is that you don’t need to invent a new molecule or a new vaccine to solve this global problem. The solution exists today,” Bhuvaraghan said. “The solution – eyeglasses – exists at the right price point as well. We have a situation where one-third of the world is affected; we have a solution that is here – it is a question of connecting the dots and making sure that everyone in the world can see well. This is why it is extremely important to address this.”

In addition to being an extremely solvable problem, Bhuvaraghan also emphasizes that the cost of intervention is very low with a high return as RestoringVision demonstrates. Research shows that when an adult worker’s vision is restored with corrective eyeglasses, there is an increase in their productivity by up to 32%. This can be correlated to an increase in income by up to 20%. For an individual earning $2 per day, this equates to an increase in earning potential of $140 annually at the household level. In 2022, through RestoringVision’s programs, 3,109,077 adults received vision-correcting glasses, which correlates to an additional $435,270,780 in earning potential at the household level.

“The entire world should rally around this cause and make sure everyone who needs glasses has them and we can rid the world of uncorrected refractive error within our lifetime. We have that golden opportunity right in front of us,” Bhuvaraghan states. “Uncorrected refractive error is one of the largest disabilities in the world. It affects more than one-third of the population and there is a huge economic and social cost to it. When we put glasses on people’s faces, we increase the productivity of the world.”

Bhuvaraghan joined the RestoringVision Board of Directors in 2021 after being invited by Board Member and sector colleagues, National Vision Inc.’s CEO Reade Fahs and Kevin Hassey, RestoringVision’s Board Chair. The decision to join was easy.

“Here was a group of people who I like, love to work with, share the same passion, and who really want to do good work at scale. It was at an inflection point – RestoringVision had done well and was ready to take the next quantum jump. I felt I could help to scale. This motivated me to join the board,” Bhuvaraghan said.

He remains energized by the fact that RestoringVision is one of the few organizations that have worked across different sectors and industries by engaging partners of all kinds, which not only supports the advancement of its programs but also promotes the cause. He is also excited about RestoringVision’s leadership in bringing customer giving to the optical sector and sharing information with other nonprofits to advance solving the global vision crisis.

“It is brilliant, something RestoringVision has always done and continues to do more. The other thing I love about its work is in the last year or two is that we are taking a leadership role amongst  diverse stakeholders – presenting the case for eye care, as well as creating a strong brand, which links to our credibility and advancing the cause,” he said.

Looking ahead, Bhuvaraghan is ready to seize this moment with RestoringVision to impact millions of people worldwide who are still waiting for the chance to see clearly and realize their full potential.

“There is a golden chance in front of us to eliminate URE in a generation. There’s a big need for multilateral agencies like the UN and WHO to be involved. When you have so many people affected, you can’t do it alone. You need governments at the table, to create strong partnerships with all the diverse stakeholders – we need everyone aligned behind this cause. Getting all of this together, bringing in universal eyecare, and eliminating uncorrected refractive error in a generation can only be done by organizations with the experience, knowledge, and contacts to make it happen,” Bhuvaraghan said. “RestoringVision has 20 years of experience in this area – and is very committed and ramping up quickly. We have set the stage for strong, exponential growth, and we have a strong, engaged, and very diverse board and leadership team. All of the stars are aligned. I am very excited and optimistic about the future.”