Visual impairment particularly affects society’s most disadvantaged who often have little access to proper eye care. A long term partnership between the Adolphe de Rothschild Foundation and Vision for Life has been launched  in Paris to ensure the vision health of communities in acute need.

Since its origins in 1905, the Rothschild Foundation has had a strong medical and social mission to offer ophthalmic care to as many people as possible, particularly those without the financial means to seek help.  To address this growing need, the Rothschild Foundation Hospital inaugurated in  October 2015 the first ophthalmic center in France that is open to all. The Edmond de Rothschild Center aims to treat 45,000 patients a year, including a number of patients living in extreme precarity thanks to the creation of a special system (“PASS-O”).

Vision for Life worked with the Rothschild Foundation to put in place a sustainable solution to bring universal access to quality vision care to communities who have difficulty in getting eye care services

“Many people don’t seek treatment because they lack the resources, a situation which is unacceptable. Access to medical care is a fundamental right,” said Julien Gottsmann, General Manager of the Rothschild Foundation. “Our PASS-O aims to help vulnerable patients access the care they need.”

Vision for Life, Essilor’s social impact fund, worked with the Rothschild Foundation to put in place a sustainable solution to bring universal access to quality vision care to communities who have difficulty in getting eye care services. Thanks to this new partnership, individuals from disadvantaged communities will be able to come to the Foundation’s ophthalmology center two mornings a week and over 4 weekends in the year for an ophthalmic consultation and treatment, and to obtain glasses to correct their vision. The initiative hopes to bring vision care to some 4,000 individuals in need annually.

It’s estimated that 1 million children in France do not have the vision correction they need

Essilor celebrated the launch of this partnership on 21 November with a special event at the Edmond de Rothschild Health Center in Paris.  Volunteers, ophthalmologists and opticians were on hand to welcome over 60 children, many for their first eye examination. Each individual had been selected by one of Essilor’s long-standing partner Samu Social de Paris, a humanitarian organization which provides care to homeless people and those in social distress. Children in need of vision correction were able to go home with glasses adapted to their individual needs, provided by Vision for Life.

“It’s the first time we’ve had this kind of care and got glasses that will help our children see better,” said one parent. “Vision is really important for them to study well at school.”

Vision impairment is still a major disability in France where it’s estimated that 1 million children do not yet have vision correction due to problems in accessing vision assessment or treatment. The late diagnosis of vision problems is the cause of 30% of academic underachievement in primary education.