How is vision linked to the Global Goals? #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat

Devex hosted the #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat on Dec. 11.

Over 2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them. In the era of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is critical that eye health is elevated as an urgent matter within public health. Devex discussed all this and more on Dec. 11 in a Twitter chat sponsored by Essilor.

These panelists and other organizations took part in the conversation:

• Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, chief mission officer, Essilor
• Kevin Frick, health economist
• Imran Khan, global technical lead, Sightsavers
• Jordan Kassalow, founder and co-chairman, VisionSpring

Below are some highlights from the online conversation:

Question 1 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

@ViceDeanFrick Vision is something that people perceive as being impacted differently than other parts of health. Different providers. Sometimes a different system.  Makes it tough to see as part of more fundamental public health.

@JayanthB There is a genuine lack of awareness for the impact of poor vision. It is not a major focus for governments. Some people are born with poor vision and others lose it slow & painlessly. People take good vision for granted so it’s not something the world talks about.

See all the answers for question 1 here.

Question 2 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

@JKassalow Vision is an urgent issue bc poor vision hurts a child’s capacity to learn and an adults productivity at work.

@Sightsavers_Pol Eye health care services can be well integrated into current health systems, making them very cost-effective and replicable through which we can piggy-back other health care treatments.

@JayanthB 2.5bn ppl can’t see well, 90% live in the developing world. Correcting poor vision positively impacts 6 Global Goals.

@Sightsavers_Pol New data predicts that global blindness could triple by 2050 without further investment. We need to meet increase in cataracts and refractive error with growing global population and because people are living longer.  

See all the answers for question 2 here.

Question 3 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

@JKassalow Poor vision drains the global economy by at least $227 billion per year.

@ViceDeanFrick This figure ($277B) needs some inflation adjustment and other updating. Need to keep the process of documentation and calculation alive and well to get everyone to appreciate the changing impact.

@JayanthB The personal cost of poor vision can’t be measured. It affects our ability to learn, work and be safe. It costs as little as $5 to equip someone with glasses. A small investment for a life changing reward.

@Sightsavers_Pol When children with VI + blindness are excluded from education, their future economic prospect are hugely restricted; creates intergenerational poverty. Its vital that children are given treatments for vision and support for those whose vision can't be restored.

@MMDPproject Trachoma is responsible for an estimated annual productivity loss of up to US$8 billion

 See all the answers for question 3 here.

Question 4 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

More from Essilor: Q&A: Opening eyes on the impact of poor vision

Good eyesight is critical to so many components of a person’s daily life and without it, many are unable to learn, earn, and be included in society. In this Q&A, Jayanth Bhuvaraghan from Essilor, a world leader in ophthalmic optics, explains how access to eye care affects every Sustainable Development Goal and why governments must make it a part of their national agendas. 

@JayanthB  We can and must work together, the public and private sector, to raise awareness and collaborate to bring good vision to all. All takes is investing $500m every year to 2050, 4 a happy, healthy, productive world.

@TheEndFund Poor vision from NTDs like trachoma & river blindness can affect people's livelihoods. Not being able to work means less money for things like school, food, hygiene, health, etc.

@Sightsavers_Pol As @JKassalow pointed out, VI contributes to many other development issues that people face - affects access healthcare, education, gain employment, and people face discrimination for having a disability, especially if they are women.

See all the answers for question 4 here.

Question 5 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

@ViceDeanFrick Telemedicine, portable medical devices, and pushing the work of screening and some other elements of eye care to those personnel who are able to do it with the least training can help make services more available.

@Sightsavers_Pol We need an integrated approach to eye health. For example, had it not been for our Billionth #NTD's work in places like Kaduna, Nigeria, more than half the community would likely be blind today from river blindness.  

@TheEndFund In addition to health workers, in order to reach those in remote areas who need trichiasis surgeries to prevent blindness, training dummies can provide practice for for the low-cost & quick procedures. 

See all the answers for question 5 here.

Question 6 for Devex’s #Vision4SDGs Twitter chat.

@TheEndFund What makes us optimistic is the increased commitment & partnership from people like @MohamedBinZayed who w/ @gatesfoundation launched the $100M #ReachingTheLastMile Fund to see an end to river blindness. 

@Sightsavers_Pol What makes me feel optimistic about the future is looking at how far we've come as a movement. The scale of achievement since @WHO roadmap to control and eliminate blinding trachoma in one of the largest public health initiatives ever seen.

To learn more about the work Essilor is doing to improve vision care worldwide and how that contributes to the wider 2030 sustainable development agenda, click here.

About the author

  • Carine Umuhumuza

    Carine Umuhumuza is a former associate director of communications at Devex, where she wrote about the latest trends, tips, and insights on media and communications for the global development community. Previously, Carine led digital initiatives at Devex for development agencies, major corporations, NGOs, and social enterprises.