How it works
2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them; of these, 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.
To help address this problem, we work with a handful of partners worldwide to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. There are two models we employ:
1) Empowering adult men and women with training opportunities to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses for ultra-affordable prices. (This accounts for the majority of our distribution.)
2) Directly giving vision care and glasses to school-age children in their classrooms, where teachers are often the first to spot issues
The power of one pair
Sources: World Health Organization, VisionSpring
From the beginning, VisionSpring has been our primary partner in the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. We’ve supported their social entrepreneurship model internationally which makes it possible for low-income men and women to acquire radically affordable eyeglasses so they can earn an income and care for their families. VisionSpring also conducts school-based vision screenings and provides glasses to boost students' learning outcomes. Over 50% of their customers are getting glasses for the very first time.
A couple of years ago, we created Pupils Project, our program with a number of organizations and local government agencies, like the Department of Education in New York City and the Department of Health in Baltimore, that provides free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to schoolchildren, many for whom this is their first pair. Eliminating barriers to access—by donating glasses and meeting children in their classrooms, where vision issues often first come to light—is the top concern as the American Optometric Association estimates that 80% of childhood learning occurs visually. We also support a similar school-based model in Mexico with the organization Ver Bien that helps bring glasses to elementary public school students across the country.
(This is cool: As part of our work in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University is conducting a longitudinal study to better understand the correlation between the intervention of vision treatment and reading scores as well as the benefits of ensuring access to glasses for children in urban settings.)