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A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses

May 4, 2018

Shivam, the boy who dreamed of being a pilot, walked away with a pair of purple-framed spectacles donated by Warby Parker, the American eyewear company, which also paid for the screenings.

“Everything is so clear,” Shivam exclaimed as he looked with wonder around the classroom.

Anshu Taneja, VisonSpring’s India director, said that providing that first pair of glasses is pivotal; people who have experienced the benefits of corrected vision will often buy a second pair if their prescription changes or they lose the glasses they have come to depend on.

A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: EyeglassesA Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses

Ratan Singh, 45, a sharecropper who recently got his first pair of reading glasses, said he could not imagine living without them now. Standing in a field of ripening wheat, he said his inability to see tiny pests on the stalks of his crop had led to decreasing yields. He sheepishly recalled the time he sprayed the wrong insecticide because he couldn’t read the label. “I was always asking other people to help me read but I was becoming a burden,” he said.

Last month, after he accidentally broke his glasses, Mr. Singh, who supports his wife and six daughters, did not hesitate to fork out the 60 rupees, roughly 90 cents, for a new pair.

Most adults over 50 need reading glasses — more than a billion people in the developing world, according to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness — though the vast majority simply accept their creeping disability.

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