China is suffering from an unknown health crisis: today 500 million people, almost 40% of the population, can’t see clearly. With the impact of impaired vision an urgent concern, ‘National Eye Care Day’, is an important date in China’s calendar. Each year, Essilor’s local teams and partners mobilize to raise awareness for healthy vision and put it firmly on China’s public agenda.
A national concern
Results of a long term study on China’s National Vision Health, supported by Essilor Vision Foundation China and endorsed by the Vision Impact Institute, revealed China is suffering from a national health crisis: 500 million people are suffering from impaired vision of which 340 million don’t have the vision correction they need. And if current trends continue, 700 million people will suffer from myopia – twice the US population – by 2020.
In line with Essilor’s mission of improving lives by improving sight, our teams in China work hard to create awareness for this issue and to increase access to vision correction either through philanthropic initiatives for the people most in need or through inclusive business solutions to reach villagers even in the most remote areas of China.
Partnering for on the ground success
To celebrate this year’s National Eye Care Day, Essilor Vision Foundation China launched a series of new programs which continue to focus the Foundation’s efforts on school children from underserved communities.
As a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Essilor Vision Foundation announced its partnership with the largest Chinese optical chain, Baodao Opticals. The partnership looks to exceed its target of equipping 2,500 school children across five regions in 2017 ahead of schedule. During 6 weeks of intensive work, Baodao Opticals volunteers screened 16,000 children, of which 1,157 received a free pair of spectacles from the Essilor Vision Foundation.
I was so surprised to learn that almost 80% of the students have vision problems.
Another long-term collaboration was launched with OPO Optical in Jilin Province, a northeastern province bordering North Korea and Russia. For National Eye Care Day, volunteers visited two schools in the rural surroundings of the provincial capital Changchun. Of the almost 2,000 students screened over two days, more than 50% needed vision correction. For Yang, Principal of Jinyu Middle School, the results were alarming; “I was so surprised to learn that almost 80% of the students have vision problems. Neither the parents nor our teachers ever noticed that. During the screening, I found many of the students have poor vision in one eye, and good vision in the other, which made the problem invisible. We are grateful for this project, it helped us realize how serious the problem is, and we’ll definitely continue it in the in the future.”
Employees on a mission
Volunteers from Essilor China also joined the celebrations for the National Eye Care Day by visiting a school for children from migrant families in Shanghai and giving classes on the importance of protecting one’s eyes. Sun Gongqi, a trainer from the Product Education Department, found the experience thoroughly fulfilling; “When volunteering on site as a teacher to the students, I found my role totally changed. No product knowledge, no sales in the class, but responsibility and love.”
When volunteering on site as a teacher to the students, I found my role totally changed. No product knowledge, no sales in the class, but responsibility and love.
Essilor’s efforts are just one step towards solving the vision problem in China. No one can do it alone which is why Essilor works with partners for a future China where everyone can see well.