Imagine not being able to enjoy the smile on your child’s face, a vibrant sunset or your favorite photograph. These simple pleasures elude more than 1.1 billion people around the world who can’t see clearly, because they have no access to vision care.
It doesn’t have to be that way, which is why EyeMed teams up with OneSight throughout the year to do something about it. World Sight Day, observed in early October each year, is a good time for EyeMed and OneSight to join vision care advocates around the world to raise awareness of the global vision care gap and promote solutions that bring care to millions in need.
Lack of vision care affects children and adults in the U.S. and around the world
Worldwide, 1 in 7 people have no access to vision care, either due to financial limitations, or because there are no vision care services in their area. Many of these people face daily struggles with vision conditions that are preventable with the right care. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 80% of all vision impairment globally is avoidable. 
This global issue affects every part of a person’s life, from kids to adults, from learning in school to the ability to raise a family and earn a living. Consider the following:
- 80% of learning is visual; children who see better, learn better; yet, even in the U.S., 1 in 4 students have an undiagnosed vision problem. [2,3]
- People are up to 35% more productive at work and can earn up to 20% more when they can see clearly. 
Here at EyeMed, we believe we have a responsibility to help the world close the vision care gap and allow everyone to achieve his or her full potential. That’s why EyeMed collaborates with OneSight year-round to deliver vital vision care to people in the U.S. and around the world through charitable clinics and self-sustaining vision centers. Our employees have a great opportunity to get involved and remember why we’re in the vision benefits business.
OneSight charitable clinics provide free eye exams and eyewear
OneSight’s charitable clinics provide free eye exams and glasses to thousands of adults and children from the U.S. to China, Brazil, India and many other countries.
They bring everything needed, including eye doctors, to provide high-quality care, for a few days to a few weeks—and even make each pair of glasses on-site.
Over the last 30+ years, these clinics have helped more than 10 million people receive vital vision care services.
One of the most amazing aspects of these clinics is that they are nearly 100% volunteer-staffed. Dawn Richards, a director of national account sales for EyeMed, participated in a OneSight 2019 clinic in Chicago at Truman College. She recalls how many of the individuals came to the clinic looking to create a better life for themselves and their families.
“Many of the people we saw had dropped out of high school due to life’s circumstances and were enrolled at the college to complete their education and create new opportunities,” she says. “It’s an amazing feeling to know you’re helping someone who is trying so hard to meet their fullest potential. Giving them a pair of glasses and helping them see more clearly plays a part in helping them achieve that dream.”
Megan Smith, a senior marketing operations specialist for EyeMed, volunteered at an innovative OneSight 2019 clinic in Brazil where they traveled by riverboat to reach remote villages. Megan said they saw 2,400 people in 4 days, many of whom were from a village who relied on 1 optometry student to provide eye care services for 14,000 residents.
“The student was still working toward becoming an eye doctor, but even he was struggling with poor vision because he didn’t have access to care. We got him the eyeglasses he needed. Now, he’s better equipped to not only complete his academic program, but he’ll be able to help so many more people see better.”
Establishing self-sustaining vision care centers worldwide
While the charitable clinics go temporarily to spots where people need help, OneSight’s sustainable vision centers provide permanent vision care access to communities in need. Each center offers physical, affordable vision care to the surrounding community, ensuring that those who need eye exams and prescription eyewear can get them.
OneSight partners with local governments and charities to build the infrastructure, support and train local staff to run them and to build community awareness of the available vision care services. Since 2013, OneSight has opened 129 permanent centers worldwide in places like The Gambia, Rwanda, China, Zambia and in schools in U.S. cities like Cincinnati, OH and Bakersfield, CA.
How you can get involved with OneSight
So many people around the world don’t have access to the vision care services and eyeglasses many take for granted to get through their day. You can get involved in so many ways and OneSight makes it easy. Learn how you can donate to the cause, start a fundraiser or volunteer.
With even more help and resources, we can continue to eliminate the barriers to clear vision everywhere, and help people around the world see life to the fullest.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also want to read:
New Year reflections on 30 years through service: helping the world see, on the job and off
What I saw in China: she had to sit right in front of the vision chart to read the symbols
1: World Health Organization. “Blindness and vision impairment.” 2018. www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blindness-and-visual-impairment
2:OneSight fact sheet; American Optometric Association
3: Kleinstein RN, Jones LA, Hullett S, et al. Refractive error and ethnicity in children. Arch Ophthalmol 2003; 121:1141-47.
4: OneSight fact sheet; Vision Spring: https://visionspring.org/?CurrencyCode=USD and USAID: https://www.usaid.gov/div/portfolio/optical-solution-envisioning