Essilor Launches Vision Impact Institute to Study Global Socio-Economic Consequences of Poor Vision

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CHARENTON-LE-PONT, France—Calling attention to an estimated $269 billion in lost productivity due to poor vision, Essilor announced Monday that it is establishing the Vision Impact Institute, an organization dedicated to studying the global socio-economic consequences of vision issues. Impaired vision affects 4.2 billion people throughout the world, of whom 2.5 billion have no access to corrective measures, according to Essilor.

The Vision Impact Institute will act as a “global connector of knowledge, data and solutions,” and to “foster research where needed, encouraging measures in the field of vision correction,” Essilor said. It will work to ensure that poor vision and its economic implications emerge as a global challenge. Toward that end, the Institute has created an interactive web platform, visionimpactinstitute.org, to unite a community of experts, increase data research and fight impaired vision throughout the world.

Poor vision is a public health issue that has substantial economic consequences at both an individual and collective level, Essilor said. The World Health Organization estimates that $269 billion in productivity is reportedly lost every year because of impaired vision, including $50 billion in Europe, $7 billion in Japan, and $22 billion in the U.S.—even though all the required solutions (eye exams, corrections) are available.

“This is an ongoing process and the Institute will encourage further research to better assess the costs of impaired vision for all regions and populations,” said Jean-Felix Biosse Duplan, a veteran Essilor executive who is president of the Vision Impact Institute. “Today, we are calling on scientists and opinion leaders in every country to get involved in the global challenge of fighting visual impairment.”

While one of the most widespread disabilities in the world, impaired vision and its cost are still underestimated in developed and emerging countries: 30 percent of young people in the world under the age of 18 reportedly suffer from uncorrected refractive error, which is often not diagnosed due to lack of awareness of access to care. This proportion rises to 33 percent in the labor force, 37 percent among elderly people and even 23 percent among motorists, according to the World Bank, Boston Consulting Group.


To support and guide the Institute’s work, the following independent and well-known international experts have agreed to join the Institute’s Advisory Board:
Kevin Frick, PhD, MA, Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md., U.S.; Clare Gilbert, ophthalmologist, professor in International Eye Health, International Center Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, U.K.; Arun Bharat Ram, CEO of SRF Limited (Shri Ram Fibers), New Delhi, India; Wu Jianmin, former ambassador in France and Netherlands, former permanent representative of the People’s Republic of China to the U.N. in Geneva.