Skip to main content
Home » Vision & eye health » Vision needs more moonshot thinking

James Chen

Chairman, The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation

Vision correction is too often deprioritised for other health issues. But this National Eye Health Week, we must recognise the importance of access to eyecare for all.

More than a year since all lockdown restrictions ended in the UK, we are only now fully coming to terms with the pandemic’s wider impact on the nation’s public health.

Overlooking eyecare

Not only have mental health and cancer treatments been severely disrupted, but so has our eye health. Delayed sight tests, referrals and surgeries resulted in almost 3,000 UK patients losing their sight, while myopia (short-sightedness) is drastically on the rise. An exponential increase in screen time has contributed to one in three children now being at risk of long-term eye damage. 

But the failure to account for eyecare costs us more than just clear vision. It is estimated that losses of productivity due to uncorrected myopia alone cost the world $244 billion annually.

Clear vision also underpins at least six of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals including good health, decent work, gender equality and the elimination of poverty.

It is estimated that losses of productivity
due to uncorrected myopia alone cost
the world $244 billion annually.

Solution at the end of our noses

The answer has been in – or on – our faces for 700 years. A simple pair of glasses possesses transformative powers to boost efficiency and economic progress. 

In a groundbreaking trial in India, the introduction of glasses increased productivity by 21% on average, equating to an entire extra working day per week. The study provided empirical evidence of the impact of glasses on productivity – an inexpensive solution to an expensive problem.

In pursuit of access to eyecare for all, I practice moonshot philanthropy: a philosophy that combines risk with the fearlessness of failure. By investing expertise as well as finance – 10 years in an issue, not just £10 million – moonshot philanthropists have a unique ability to achieve paradigm-shifting ambition: not least the UN’s resolution of Vision For Everyone by 2030. 

With a collective moonshot mindset, cross-industry leaders can help to revive the global economy, address inequalities and ultimately improve the quality of life for millions. Vision should be where they look first.

Next article