INNOVATION IN OPTOMETRY

An Eye Opener.

During one of our charity outreaches back in 2009 we met an elderly lady and what she told us that day changed our lives forever. Even though we have helped hundreds of people with eye care before, nothing quite prepared us for the simple, yet eye-opening statement she made that Thursday afternoon.

While we were busy dispensing a basic pair of reading glasses to this elderly lady, we asked her what she was looking forward to the most now that she has new glasses. Her answer was short and simple:

“I cannot wait to read my Bible again for the first time in 40 years.”

For the first time in 40 years? What happened here was simple, yet the optometry industry failed her. After the age of 40 we all start to lose our ability to focus at near object, this process is called presbyopia. She was 86 years old at the time, after losing the ability to read at near, many years ago, she has never had the means to acquire a basic pair of reading glasses, leaving her enable to perform one of her most important morning rituals, reading her Bible.

This encounter showed us what impact a pair of glasses can have on a persons life. Not only does it give us the ability to read, write and work, is also has the ability to build confidence and improve economies.

Why is good vision important?

Improved quality of life.  The ability to see clearly can impact all areas of one’s life, like self-esteem and independence. With clear vision we can move around independently, enabling us to become active members in our communities, contributing where we can.

Improved productivity. Without good vision one cannot work. Studies have shown that improving a persons vision can lead to a 35% increase in productivity and a potential 20% increase in salaries. Vision correction is one easy one to boost the economy.

Improved safety. With clear vision one can more confidently perform daily tasks while avoiding dangers when working with machinery, avoiding moving vehicles and staying safe on a construction site. Less injuries in the workplace equates to more productivity and a boost in the economy.

Improved education. With clear vision children are able to read and learn. Adults can also successfully participate in continuing education and workforce training.

Improved economy. The lack of access to glasses results in a loss on million for the South African economy. By providing glasses, we create opportunities for work and economic growth

What is the current problem in South Africa?

Prevalence of refractive error. The World Health Organisation’s “Global data on visual impairment” has the refractive error at 42%, this number includes developed countries and developing countries. Refractive error differs a lot when it comes to age. All adults older than 40 will develop presbyopia and loose the ability to read or see objects near. So we can assume that 100% of people over the age of 45 years will need glasses.

Cost of glasses. Most people in South Africa cannot afford quality eye care, it is just to expensive. Despite our best efforts, poverty in South Africa is on the rise.  Data released in 2015 by StatsSA showed that over 30,4 million people was living in poverty (more than half of the South African population).

Distribution of optometrists. Another massive problem facing South Africa is the distribution of optometrists. Recent stats tell us there is 3527 registered optometrists in South Africa, of which only 235 are working in the public sector. trying to serve the need of almost 80% of the population (around 42 million people).

What is the Solution?

How do we get free (or inexpensive) eye care to the masses? To the people in need and to the people that cannot afford and have access to eye care? The answers lies in a brilliant solution developed with one goal in mind, to improve lives by improving vision.

VisionBox.

A vertically integrated business model that brings optometrists into townships, reducing the cost of glasses drastically and helping the community it serves in the following ways:

  • Black Entrepreneurship Development
  • Job Creation in community
  • Development of Township Economies
  • Reduce Uncorrected Refractive Error

Through donations and Project Cat-Eye we are looking to offer free eye tests to all people in need, and free tests and glasses for all children in our KidsCFree Program.

How big is the problem?

StatsSA

In 2016 the population of South Africa was 55,6 million. According to some report in the recent past, we can note the following:

  • Living in poverty, earning less than R992 per month = 30,4 million people
  • Living in extreme poverty, earning less than R441 per month = 13,8 million people
  • No schooling, older than 20yrs = 2 386 810
  • Difficulty seeing = 5 111 315  (most of any disability)
  • Unemployment rate = 27,7%

People without medical aid cover

Only 18% of people in South Africa have medical aid coverage, with 88,70% of black people not covered. Nearly 45 million South Africans will have to pay cash when they go for an eye test and need glasses.

Our Vision 

To make optometry accessible to all.

Our Mision

We seek to:

  • Develop Black Entrepreneurs in the optometry industry
  • Create jobs in poor townships
  • Develop township economies through improved vision
  • Reduce uncorrected refractive error in South Africa

Entrepreneurship Development

Through the support and structure of our social business model, we empower black optometrists to start and run their own community practices and earn a good, sustainable income.

Job Creation

Through our multiple VisionBOX Community Practices’s, we aim to create hundreds of job opportunities in the middel of rural townships where employment is scares and economic growth is much needed. All our VisionBOX’s will need cleaning personnel, receptionists and security staff.

Development of Township Economies

People with poor vision cannot read, get their drivers licence, nor can they operate a forklift or truck. By improving their vision, we equip them with the necessaries requirements to start their own business, find employment, earn money and grow the township economies as a result.   

Reduce Uncorrected Refractive Error

Our business model has the ability to eradicate the number one cause of visual impairment (uncorrected refractive error) in South Africa.

Do you want to get involved?

To make this model work, we need assistance from all parts of the community. If you would like more information, feel free to contact us.

Corporate Involvement

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