NEW YORK – Essilor of America President Eric Leonard said that 2.5 billion people on the planet do not have vision correction, and “we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to participate in this fight for better vision.”
Leonard said during a company-sponsored press conference here at Vision Expo East that Essilor’s goal is to eradicate poor vision in one generation.
“It’s absolutely possible to do,” he said.
“Danyang will be the first city in China where we eradicate uncorrected refractive error,” Leonard added. “The U.S. has a key role to play.”
He said that, “the philanthropic piece is a very important one, but one we know cannot expand or scale to the size of the issue. We need to have more than pure philanthropy, more than giving eye exams and spectacles, but it’s important and what makes it visible.
“We can help by not only giving to them but by creating jobs,” Leonard said, “where they can make a living out of selling a pair of glasses but at prices that are possible for the local population.”
He said the concept is still in its infancy and is now a question of awareness.
“People in these villages are very busy because they have to work so hard to live,” Leonard said, “and making time to take care of their eyes an issue.”
Through the Eye Mitra program from Essilor and its partners, young people are assisted in setting up village-based businesses to detect vision problems and dispense affordable eyeglasses.
“In 2018 the goal is to provide our 1 millionth pair of glasses to underserved children and families,” Leonard said. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO
Disclosure: Leonard is employed by Essilor of America.