Bringing the vision care crisis into focus
Accurately sizing the issue to maximize impact
Every day around the world, untreated vision problems have ripple effects on health, human dignity, education, and livelihoods that are difficult to measure. Now we can measure the size of the problem: In a joint effort aimed at helping align resources around this intractable issue, Deloitte and OneSight found that economic, physical, and cultural barriers prevent 1.1 billion people—1 in 7—from receiving treatment as basic as prescription eyewear or quality sunglasses.
How corporations play a role in delivering deliver social impact in a sustainable manner
In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), setting ambitious objectives and opening pathways for collaboration around some of the world’s most pressing problems. World leaders created a new global agenda committed to paving the way for a sustainable future by tackling international issues such as poverty, health, injustice, and climate change by 2030. The seventeen SDGs will influence UN and member nation’s policy and funding decisions over the next 15 years.
OneSight, an independent nonprofit arm of Luxottica providing access to quality vision care and glasses to underserved communities worldwide, saw this as a call to action and an opportunity to align private, public, and social sector resources around their cause.
With the UN’s SDGs and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2013 report, Universal Eye Health: A global action plan, calling for cross-sector collaboration to solve these global issues, OneSight tapped Deloitte to help understand the extent of the problem and identify which regions are most adversely affected. Before Deloitte began investigating global vision impairment, the scope of the crisis was far from clear: Estimates ranged from 285 million to 2.4 billion people affected by vision issues—a difference of 84 in magnitude. Deloitte applied a top-down approach that layers population estimates, visual impairment parameters, and access proxies to estimate the global need for glasses. The result is a dynamic model able to predict future crisis scale by adapting to country-specific population estimates.
Having a more accurate picture of the crisis will help mobilize and prioritize efforts by providing a common understanding of the pervasive lack of access to a simple remedy—glasses.
Our approach and our findings
Review of four prominent studies on the global vision crisis revealed that the estimates were based on inconsistent population criteria, geographical boundaries ranged from the entire global population to only developing countries, and there was no consistency in including or omitting already corrected vision impairment cases. Without consistent definitions, we found it difficult to compare the estimates. Data gaps and disparate methodologies also contributed to the wide range of findings.
Deloitte and OneSight leveraged Deloitte’s analytical capabilities and OneSight’s strategic counsel to refine the existing methodologies and define a new approach for sizing the global vision crisis. Deloitte and OneSight’s methodology refines the existing top-down approach used by University of Oxford, capturing both the benefits of the existing top-down and bottom-up approaches while trying to minimize drawbacks. With all criteria applied, the model reveals that 2.5 billion people in the world need glasses due to a refractive error. Of those with clinical need, 1.1 billion, or 1 in 7 people, lack access to glasses.
No age group is untouched by the crisis. From school age children to working adults to the elderly, vision impairment impedes individuals from clearly focusing on daily activities.
We found the crisis to be most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where up to 44 percent of the population in certain areas has untreated vision impairment.
2015 Geography of the need for glasses (percentage of the population)
With a clear picture of the global vision crisis, what are the next steps? As the UN emphasized with its seventeenth Sustainable Development Goal, it is time to “revitalize the global partnership” to solve our world’s largest issues, including this one.
Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice emphasizes the power of aligned action among private, public, and social sector players creating a “solution economy” where collaboration is more powerful than any individual organization’s actions. As the WHO addresses its global action plan’s three objectives—gathering evidence for advocacy, influencing policy, and fostering collaboration—nonprofit organizations like OneSight can leverage philanthropic and private sector support, to align their on-the-ground strategies with other actions in the collaborative network.
Deloitte’s model gives government, businesses, and philanthropic actors a prioritization for addressing the global need for glasses in the countries with the largest and most acute needs now, over the next 5 years, and forward as the international community partners to tackle the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Equipped with this dynamic model, key stakeholders can plan and pivot, always backed by the data needed to bring the world into clearer focus.