Commonwealth leaders have been urged to provide sight tests, affordable glasses and other treatments to address the “vision crisis among school children” at an event hosted by The Countess of Wessex at St James’s Palace.
The call was made on Wednesday night, February 26.
With half a billion children expected to struggle with short sight by 2050, the ‘Glasses in Classes’ campaign was launched at St James’s Palace by the Vision for the Commonwealth coalition of leading sight charities including Clearly, Sightsavers, Fred Hollows Foundation, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
A short animation, made by campaigner and comedian Grace Campbell and featuring a voiceover by South African comedian, Loyiso Gola, sets out the problems faced in classrooms around the world by children with poor vision. The film explains that the solution, glasses, have been around for 700 years.
It concludes that if “54 Commonwealth leaders show vision on vision, millions of children could soon see clearly.”
The ‘Glasses in Classes’ campaign, organised by Clearly, a charity dedicated to highlighting the scale of the vision crisis internationally, will be taken to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in June.
Around half of those struggling with poor vision – which industry estimates put as high as 2.7 billion – live in the Commonwealth.
Clearly is leading a global effort to get sight tests, affordable glasses and other treatments into every school in the world in order to give children the best start in life.
The astonishing scale of myopia among children around the world has been previously highlighted in research by the Clearly campaign.
In 2020, 310 million children have short sight, with the number projected to rise to 480 million by 2050.
Hosting the event, The Countess of Wessex said, “The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust left an incredible legacy in tackling avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth. I am delighted that the Commonwealth are making further progress with their commitment to quality eye care for all.”
Speaking at the event last night James Chen, Founder of Clearly said, “We implore Commonwealth leaders to solve the vision crisis among school children. They must commit to offering sight tests, affordable glasses and other treatments to every schoolchild in the Commonwealth, giving them the best possible start in life.”
Professor Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity said that it is truly frightening that half the world will be suffering from short sight by 2050 including 500 million children.
“So we are calling for all the citizens of the Commonwealth to be given glasses when they need them, especially children,” she said.