Catalyst 2030 member, VisionSpring Foundation (VSF), is based in India and provides eyeglasses for low-income and marginalised populations in India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Vietnam.
Social entrepreneurs are known for finding solutions for society’s problems. What is the problem that you are addressing, and what is your solution?
If your vision is blurred, you are less able to work effectively, read and learn in school, and navigate your surroundings with ease and safety. The most typical eye problems result from refractive error, which means the eye is unable to focus clearly on an object. For workers who must see objects up close to perform their tasks, the loss of near vision translates into reduced productivity, excessive effort and frequent headaches.
Workers in textiles and apparel, rugmakers, weavers, artisans, tea-pickers, and bicycle and auto mechanics fall in this category. Some recent work with Varanasi weavers has shown that almost 70% need a pair of eyeglasses. In a study called PROSPER [Productivity Study of Presbyopia Elimination in Rural-dwellers] published in The Lancet Global Health, it was shown for the first time that providing a simple pair of reading glasses can significantly improve the productivity of rural agricultural workers. On average, providing tea pickers with eyeglasses improved productivity by 21.7% and 32% for workers over the age of 50.
VSF conducts community outreach activities and free eye-screening with mobile eye care unit vans which provide last mile vision-care services to the poor. VSF also provides eye care / eye health advice centres and refers patients with complex eye diseases to the nearest eye hospital.
Our four projects are:
- See to Learn programme – VSF helps Indian children succeed in school by addressing their blurry vision. Our teams conduct school-based vision screenings, provide eyeglasses for students and their teachers, and train educators to identify children with vision problems.
- See to Earn programme – VSF enables access to affordable eye care to those communities whose earning is directly linked to vision, like weavers, artisans, and tea garden workers to help improve their productivity level and create a prolonged earning potential.
- See to be Safe programme – The programme ensures road safety for all road users by providing access in transit hubs to affordable eyeglasses and eye care services for long-haul truckers, bus and taxi drivers, and other allied transportation workers.
- Clear Vision Workplace programme – The programme aims to increase workers’ use of eyeglasses in industries to advance economic growth. When their vision is corrected, worker well-being is enhanced and productivity and quality standards are improved.
What do you see as the benefit of your Catalyst 2030 membership?
Catalyst 2030 gives us an opportunity to find out about various innovative social intervention programmes happening in the sector, along with ways in which we can contribute to various SDG targets.
Are you collaborating with any other Catalyst 2030 members?