Clear vision for the whole world can be a reality with ideas and innovation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 9:26pm

The article on short-sightedness among young Chinese (“China’s myopia epidemic: why a simple solution is being ignored”, April 8), highlights a critical issue.

Globally, 2.5 billion people suffer from poor vision, with no access to treatment. However, 80 per cent of these cases could be resolved with a simple pair of glasses.

Poor vision is the largest unaddressed disability in the world, yet it rarely receives the international attention it deserves. Seeing clearly is much more than a health issue.

Seeing clearly is much more than a health issue

Across Asia – and indeed the world – people are being held back from accessing education, enjoying life to the full and participating in progress due to poor vision.

At a purely economic level, this costs the global economy ­HK$3 trillion a year.

Of course, one solution is to tackle root causes – like the role that overuse of technology and a lack of daylight play in myopia rates in China’s cities. However, to make a real difference, we need to break down other key barriers – from detecting and diagnosing poor vision, designing affordable solutions and distributing these in hard-to-reach communities, to raising awareness of the issue globally and with the individuals affected.

As the founder of Clearly, a global campaign focused on helping the world see, we recognise that we are at a tipping point: we live in an age of radical disruptive thinking. The combination of ideas, technologies and endeavour has the power to transform access to good sight around the world.

I recently witnessed this in action when some of the world’s most influential individuals, businesses and NGOs came together in Venice to map out an ambitious strategy to achieve universal access to vision correction.

This meeting underlined both the urgency of the problem and the exciting possibilities out there.

If we can focus more of the world’s attention, innovation and brain power on this issue, I believe we can crack it and help the whole world to see within a generation.

James Chen, founder, Clearly (