At least 670 million people are blind or visually impaired simply because they do not have access to the most basic eye examinations and a pair of glasses. Of those, at least 153 million suffer from treatable blindness or distance vision impairment, and a further 517 million due to near-sightedness, all caused by uncorrected refractive error. The link between poverty and avoidable blindness is indisputable. Uncorrected visual impairment causes profound economic disadvantages to individuals, their families, and their societies. People living with uncorrected visual impairment are most likely to be excluded from basic education, suffer from isolation and have fewer employment opportunities.
Founded by Professors Brien Holden and Kovin Naidoo, the mission of the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation (BHVIF) is to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error by developing sustainable solutions for communities in need. The Foundation uses a four-pronged strategy that focuses on human resource development (supporting the development of optometry schools, as well as training eye care personnel and local individuals as educators); service development (establishment of vision centers and other sites for eye care); research (keeping programs relevant and effective); and social enterprise (helping with job creation and local ownership of vision centers). BHVIF already works in 32 countries: 11 countries in Africa, 14 in the Asia-Pacific region, three in the Middle East and four in Latin America. Through its Vision Centers, the organization provides direct screening services and prescribes glasses. It has also developed its own global supply chain and resource center to significantly reduce the cost of glasses and equipment for its own use, other NGOs and public providers.
Web site: http://www.brienholdenvision.org/