2014.03.07

New approaches to improving access to affordable eye care in Brazil

2.5 billion people in the world suffer from poor vision often because of lack of access to affordable eye care. Essilor has been exploring ways to bring vision correction to city residents in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, through a series of community partnership programs. More than 1000 people have benefited since the work began in 2013.

First step was the creation of the Ver & Viver (See and Live Again) Institute last June, set up with the objective of developing access to vision care. It manages two important aspects – ensuring availability of ophthalmologists for eye examinations and dispensing affordable corrective eyewear in the form of an Essilor ready-to-clip lenses solution. It enables people to leave seeing better, through getting their new glasses on the spot.

From an initial eye care week in Rio de Janeiro’s Federal Hospital, Ver & Viver has gone on to test other approaches. A critical element for success is local partnerships – with municipal or health authorities, non-profit vision organizations like Lions Club International and other local volunteer groups. In October 2013, Ver & Viver helped test hundreds of employees at a large public maintenance company and ran a screening program alongside a hospital glaucoma awareness campaign to target the local disadvantaged community.

All these pilots helped prepare for a recent large-scale vision testing campaign in the Mangaratiba municipality of Rio de Janeiro. In Mangaratiba, there is only one public healthcare ophthalmologist for a population of 37,000, leaving many residents with no access to eye care. In early February, Ver & Viver supported a mobile ophthalmological unit and service tents in the city square to provide eye examinations for some 930 people and the opportunity to buy affordable glasses. Over these four days, more than 500 people left equipped with new glasses.

All these programs aim to give Ver & Viver Institute the experience to scale up its operations to help a greater number of people in need of vision correction. It’s just one example of Essilor’s different inclusive business models aimed at bridging the gap in uncorrected visual impairment worldwide.

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