Vision Health is the Key to Ending Poverty in All its Forms

Author: Pelin Munis, Ph.D., Executive Director, RestoringVision

“In a world built on the ability to see, vision, the most dominant of our senses, is vital at every turn of our lives.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

Restoring someone’s sight is the single most cost-effective health intervention to reduce poverty.

These simple facts, brought to light by the World Health Organization, are a revelation for many, and is what motivates RestoringVision to work tirelessly for equitable access to clear sight. This fact is a rallying cry and call to action for new and existing philanthropic partners to invest in our work that needs to be done to scale to reach those living on less than $2 a day who lack equitable access to the vision services they need to thrive.

RestoringVision has the program pipeline to reach as many as 7 million people annually, and now we seek the funding to make clear vision a reality for millions of people worldwide, directly contributing to ending poverty. As we expand our team and accelerate our growth to transform even more lives with clear vision every year, we are excited about where we are headed and all that we will accomplish together with our generous donors and partners.

In a world where over 1 billion people have vision impairments correctable with glasses, yet do not have them, and 81% of these vision impairments could be corrected with reading glasses, RestoringVision is fiercely committed to solving this issue. We are creating a roadmap to the solution: increased, sustainable access to vision care and eyeglasses for people living in poverty worldwide, which advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #1: Ending Poverty in All its Forms.

Rates of poverty have increased at historical levels across the globe due to the pandemic and are now further exacerbated by the impacts of global unrest caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result, our work and the demand for our programs have increased significantly over the last two years. We know that the ability to see clearly is a necessary condition for sustained livelihoods, increased productivity, and extended earning years. With clear vision, one has a better chance of creating a pathway out of poverty due to productivity gains and workforce longevity.

A fisherman in Guatemala recently struggled to tie fishing nets – because he struggled to see clearly. Not only did fishing provide income for his household, but it also provided the food for their family dinners. An old pair of eyeglasses he owned previously were broken, and without access to a new pair, he struggled to work each day. That is, until he received a new pair of glasses through RestoringVision’s programs. Every pair of glasses has an impact with infinite ripple effects.

Approximately 90% of the world’s vision-impaired live in developing countries, and as this fisherman’s story demonstrates, access to eyeglasses is critical to increasing a person’s ability to earn an income. By serving at the intersection of global health, education, and economic development, RestoringVision is providing impoverished communities worldwide with vision programs and glasses, empowering people with clear sight, renewed vision health, and increased earning potential, directly contributing to ending poverty. Without vision health interventions, deterioration in vision will only decrease productivity and earning potential – further exacerbating the effects of poverty.

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 2021, through RestoringVision’s programs, 1,930,363 adults received corrective glasses, which correlates to an additional $270,250,820 in earning potential at the household level. The WHO World Report on Vision states: “The cost gap for vision impairment or blindness that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed is an additional $14.3 billion US dollars.”

By advancing vision solutions, we can solve one of the biggest global health problems of our time and remove barriers to success for people across the globe. RestoringVision is dedicated to empowering lives with clear vision and we are dedicated to ending poverty for all.