Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Clearly/Sarah Day Photography
PartnerDefeat Poverty

The World’s Biggest Companies Need to Do This One Thing to Help Support 2.5 Billion People

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Poor vision is having a devastating impact on the livelihoods of 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to quality eye care. That’s why we need action to help drive change, reduce poverty and end inequality. You can join us by taking action here to call on the world’s leading companies to provide free sight tests for their workers. 

What makes you unproductive at work? Bad internet? Not having had your morning coffee? While these things don’t exactly help you be as productive as you can be, can you imagine how much harder it would be if you couldn’t see clearly?

That’s the reality for a third of the world’s population — meaning 2.5 billion people — who have poor vision and no access to glasses. And 90% of these people live in low-income countries. 

Now, in honour of World Sight Day, Global Citizen’s friends at Clearly are calling on the world’s biggest companies to take action to change that. 

Take action: Ask Amazon, Shell, Starbucks, and More to Provide Quality Eye Care for All

Clearly, a global campaign to bring clear vision as quickly as possible to the billions of people living with poor vision around the world, is writing to more than 120 of the world’s largest companies and asking them to provide free sight tests for their workers. 

Their list of companies includes those many of us use daily — such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Shell. 

While we may not realise it, poor vision is the world’s largest unaddressed disability. Poor vision has serious implications for productivity in the workplace, and impedes our progress towards the UN’s Global Goals. 

But things are beginning to change. 

Back in April, the leaders of all 53 Commonwealth countries pledged to take action to achieve quality eye care for everyone at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Related Stories July 24, 2018 Clearly This One Health Intervention Could Mean $19 Billion in Growth for India

It was the first time in history that the global crisis of poor vision has been formally recognised at a meeting of world leaders — and you guys played your part too. 

In the run-up to CHOGM, thousands of Global Citizens sent tweets to world leaders calling for action, and they listened! But the world needs businesses to get on board too if we’re really going to drive change. 

And change is vital, both for the economy and for individuals. 

A report published in July in The Lancet Global Health, and funded by Clearly, explored the very real impact that improving vision can have on people’s livelihoods. 

Researchers for the report conducted a trial of 750 Indian tea pickers in Assam — mainly female and all aged 40 or over — to explore the connection between clear vision and productivity. 

And when workers with poor vision were given the glasses they needed, it prompted the largest-ever recorded productivity increase from any health intervention — a rise in productivity of 22% on average, and 32% for those aged over 50. 

“There is a clear and certain case for improving vision and providing sight tests for our business’ employees,” said a spokesperson from Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd., owners of the tea garden where the trial took place, in a statement provided to Global Citizen at the time. 

“It makes work more productive and more rewarding, and at the heart of this study there is a clear message for businesses like ours — good vision is vital to what we do,” they said. “This is a turning point in awareness of the impact of clear vision on our tea garden’s wellbeing and productivity.”

Related Stories April 3, 2018 Clearly How Rwanda Became the First Low-Income Country to Provide Eye Care for All — in Just 5 Years

And as well as being good for business, clear vision can lead to improvements in wellbeing, in confidence and independence levels, and can help keep people safe too.

Many jobs in low-income countries involve manual tasks that can be dangerous if you have poor vision — for example, operating heavy machinery or driving. In Africa, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 15-29, according to Clearly. 

Vitally, improving an adult’s vision can also positively impact on their families and children — and help break the cycle of poverty. Having access to glasses means that people can stay in work longer, meaning an increased income for their families, and meaning their children can stay in formal education longer. 

So take note Amazon, Shell, Starbucks and every single one of the world’s biggest companies. 

“700 years after glasses were first invented, we now have conclusive proof of the link between clear vision and productivity,” said James Chen, founder of Clearly. “Poor vision is the scandal the world forgot.”