While impaired vision is a common occurrence among many people, it is a near certainty past middle age. In the affluent west vision correction is as common as vision impairment and we hardly cast a second thought on the topic. In, third world countries however, economic factors have ensured that there is a very real shortage of eyeglasses in relation to actual demand and form many, vision correction is the unattainable dream. The practical and economic ramifications are obvious: the shortage of eyeglasses reduces the working life of workers who need their eyes for fine work through onset of presbyopia in middle age. For the young it prevents children from being educated properly at school. The World Health Organization has released findings in a recently commissioned study on the subject that suggests that the limited number of eyeglasses in the developing world affects the global economy as a whole and not just the economy of the third world countries affected by such shortages. Researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a team of Australian scientists conducted the study. According to the results, the costs in provision of cheap eyeglasses to the needy is estimated at Circe $28 billion but the global economy will see an improvement of about $200 billion once this particular problem has been addressed.
$28 billion would cover the training costs to train about 65,000 optometrists, in addition to ensuring that clinics have the supplies they need. This would include prescription eyeglasses, which can be mass-produced for only $2 per pair.
The authors estimate that there are about 703 million individuals suffering continuous vision impairments while their conditions remain uncorrected. They either suffer from conditions of nearsightedness or farsightedness which results in poor performance at work. People that are vision-impaired may not be able to reach their full potential hence their work outputs and productivity is affected. Businesses with unproductive workers have no way of improving their sales performance thus translating to a poor economic scenario.
Some 80% of these individuals can greatly benefit from prescription glasses but don’t have the ability to purchase them. The cost savings and benefits to business that could potentially be accrued from improved productivity would not be immediately evident in very poorest regions such of Africa (for example) without other tandem initiatives. However moderately poor countries with better employment opportunities such as factory jobs or other trades such as sewing or even driving would see immediate benefits.
The most common of vision impairments related to the onset old age is presbyopia, a condition where the lens of the eye loses its flexibility and blurs vision at very close and very long-range. Thus skilled workers suffer deteriorating performance as a result of their poor vision and this greatly affects profits for their company. Many skilled crafts become very difficult without reading glasses for those after the age of forty.
The future of any economy rests with the education of the nation’s children. If vision impairment is corrected early then the logical corollary must be that these children will achieve even greater standards in education that their forebears and the national rate of return of investment that companies and their countries will achieve will increase in tandem. Though this would occur in the future and was not directly calculated within this specific study, clear optical vision is the future but the need is immediate: express vision correction now is one of the most sound investments for the future.