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Investing in Solutions to Help the Whole World See Clearly

It’s been over 700 years since the simplest pair of spectacles was invented. But billions of people across the developing world do not have access to correction for vision. It is the biggest not addressed handicap in the world, with huge social and economic consequences, yet the world is unaware of the problem.

There are an astonishing 2.5 billion people across the world with low vision, but there is no way to improve it equivalent to the total population that comprise India, China and Japan.

This issue is costing the global economy around $3 trillion annually – more than the GDP of Africa.

Poor vision is a not-an urgent and often unnoticed disability that tends to be a drop on the priority scale globally when compared to life-threatening illnesses like HIV malaria, HIV or Ebola.

Understanding the issue clearly

For everyone who wears glasses understands that good vision can transform lives in every aspect – from education access to increasing business efficiency. Growing as a child in Africa using glasses, I experienced in my own experience the necessity for people to have greater access to correction for vision.

That’s why I’ve spent the past 12 years on my own personal journey in order to make sure that everyone has access to corrective vision. The journey began with the founding of Adlens – an eyewear brand that can be adjusted and then launching Vision for a Nation, an award-winning charity that has made sure that each Rwandan citizen can access primary eye health care. This has led me to in launching ‘Clearly’, which is which is a year-long campaign designed to make sure that everyone can look.

While the consequences of a lack of vision may not always make the spotlight, its gradual and steady decline in individual, economic and social growth makes it a subject important to the world at large.

Be safe and healthy. A study by the World Health Organisation has shown that in a number of African countries, road traffic accidents cause greater fatalities than malaria. Within the next 5 years, they’ll be the leading reason for deaths across the continent – many of them because of poor vision.

While in India the country, a report released from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways found the fact that the majority of motorists who were involved in car accidents were at least one person with a visual impairment.

Helping the entire world to be seen

In a society that has created cures for many of the most dangerous diseases and designed automobiles that self-drive, we can and should do better.

I’m aware that the issues are many, including supporting governments, providing training and specialists to markets that are not well-developed reaching out and engaging remote communities, and providing affordable solutions for vision correction.

I am also aware that in the time of rapid advancements in healthcare, technology, and science, we have the potential to develop solutions to the eye problems that plague the world.

That’s why we’ve put support for the latest technologies at the core of Clearly. We aim to create an era of innovation in eye care to make it easier for everyone to see.

NASA is hoping to put humans on Mars in 2035. I’m determined that when it happens, the entire world will be able to see the event clearly.

The power of technology to transform lives

The underlying principle of Clearly campaign is my belief that, through the combined power and capability of the most brilliant minds around we will be able to discover innovative methods and techniques that have the potential to effect the world at large.

We’ve hosted a number of ‘Clearly Labs’, thought-provoking think tanks that are curated in cities where world-class innovators from a variety of disciplines come together to share their expertise. Clearly, Labs have taken place throughout the world, starting from Hong Kong to San Francisco and recently within New York and Ottawa.

One of the main tenets to the initiative includes that of the Clearly Vision Prize, a $250,000 USD prize that has been awarded recently to the most creative ways to tackle the issue of low vision.

Nine innovation prize winners were selected from over 100 businesses spread 21 countries.

The Grand Prize of $100,000 was presented to South Africa-based Vula Mobile, a diagnostics application that connects primary healthcare personnel in remote areas to specialists on call via an encrypted medical chat system and referral system. Other shortlisted projects included an origami-inspired, inexpensive eye-screening gadget as well as last-mile distribution services to provide affordable eyeglasses.

Each of these groundbreaking technologies has the potential to transform the way we identify, provide and offer eye care around the globe. They can help us move nearer to the Clearly campaign’s aim, which is to help everyone in the world see by the end of 20 years.

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Jane S. King

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