By Pelin Munis, Ph.D., CEO, RestoringVision
In just a few days, on October 2, 2023, we celebrate 20 years at RestoringVision.
It’s a momentous date in our organization’s history as it signifies 20 years of lives empowered across the globe, 20 years of human potential unlocked through the power of vision screenings and eyeglasses, 20 years of progress towards a world where everyone who needs glasses has them, and 20 years of work towards a more equitable world with clear vision.
And it all began with one man’s drive to make a difference: Our Founder, Chair Emeritus and Advisor, Mark Sachs.
Mark’s contribution to the world is extraordinary and worthy of the most prestigious recognitions as he has positively impacted the lives of 25 million people living in extreme poverty in 147 countries since 2003. The ripple effects of one man’s determination and actions are infinite.
As a person of faith and one who believes that we have a responsibility to contribute to the health and well-being of others, Mark has dedicated his life and career to helping people see clearly.
During optical mission trips to less developed countries more than 20 years ago, Mark saw firsthand that one of the most important health and economic commodities in the world, reading glasses, was not available or affordable in many parts of the world outside of the United States and other developed countries. This observation led Mark to action – to start an organization called RestoringVision, which today, we can proudly state is one of the largest optical nonprofits, now reaching 4 million people worldwide in 2023 alone.
Because of Mark’s vision, we are working together to solve a crisis. Over 1 billion people worldwide have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. An overwhelming 91% live in impoverished communities worldwide without the ability to access or afford eyeglasses, and 826 million, or 81% only need a pair of reading glasses.
In addition to creating RestoringVision, Mark served as the organization’s Managing Director for 14 years and Chair for 18 years. From the basement of his home and grassroots efforts to raise awareness, to a global nonprofit with a prestigious board, team, and an unparalleled network of more than 3,000 NGO and government partners, RestoringVision is leading the way to solving the global vision crisis. None of this would be possible today if it weren’t for Mark’s vision of a better world and his commitment to translating empathy into action.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. RestoringVision’s journey towards achieving its vision of a world where everyone who needs glasses has them began with Mark’s first step.
Mark’s steadfast commitment to ensuring no person is left behind, and his commitment to doing good with integrity, are two values that RestoringVision continues to uphold today. When you speak with Mark about RestoringVision, there is a deep and personal connection to the cause and the people we are able to help. He exudes care and authenticity, leaving the person across from him inspired and motivated to help.
Mark’s story in many ways is the story of a person doing the extraordinary. His legacy is worth knowing and continuing at this 20-year mark and beyond.
It is a legacy that he hopes one day will lead to the end of one of the largest global health crises of our time. And when this happens, people everywhere – regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, location, or income will have access to the glasses they need to live their most productive and best lives during all of their stages of life.
I’m proud to recognize RestoringVision’s 20-year anniversary as we reflect on the past and focus on the present with our sights set on solving the global vision crisis.