Stars Unite To Fight Disability That Hits Third Of The World

A host of stars – including Niall Horan, Annie Lennox, Hugh Laurie, Eddie Izzard, Sir Lenny Henry, Miranda Hart, James May, Jason Isaacs, Ed Balls, Sir Paul Smith, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Laura Mvula, Paterson Joseph, Nick Frost, Maddi Waterhouse, David Baddiel, Richard Hammond and Brenda Blethyn – have come together to support a new global effort to eradicate poor vision, by the Clearly campaign.

A third of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – have poor vision and no access to glasses – a solution that has been around for centuries and can cost as little as £1 to produce. These staggering statistics, along with a global index of countries most badly affected by poor vision are revealed in the first published report of its kind by Clearly. Clearly is a global campaign, founded by businessman and philanthropist James Chen, working to bring clear vision to people denied it worldwide, so that everyone can realise their full potential. His new book, highlighting the scandal that a third of the world suffer from poor vision is released today.

Supporting Clearly’s campaign, a cast of famous faces sport spectacles in a short film released on World Sight Day to highlight the staggering number of people who lack access to glasses. The film calls on the public to show support by signing Clearly’s online petition urging world leaders to take urgent action to eradicate poor vision and make it a priority at the Commonwealth Summit next April.

Speaking in support of the campaign, Annie Lennox said ‘“I just cannot believe in this day and age, people can’t get access to glasses on a huge scale and it feels like it’s not rocket science. We can send men to the moon, why can’t we have everyone having access to reading glasses so they have access to the world?”

Lenny Henry said: “It’s a really upsetting situation to think that a pair of glasses could change someone’s life like that and we should do whatever we can to change it”.

Brenda Blethyn said: “Can you imagine, a whole world would open up to those people, with just a simple pair of glasses?”

The majority of people (90 per cent) affected by poor vision live in the developing world. For the first time a global ranking of countries with the highest numbers of people with poor vision has been made available by Clearly, which reveals that China has a staggering 720m people with poor vision, followed by India (477m), Nigeria (94,6m), Indonesia (89.9m) and Brazil (79.4m). These countries make up some of the world’s fastest growing economies and the research underlines the fact that a global lack of eye-care is costing the world an estimated 3 trillion dollars a year.  Poor vision is the world’s largest unaddressed disability and yet is one that the world has forgotten, with no mention of sight in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

These shocking findings are revealed in a new book released today by James Chen, Founder of Clearly, about the game-changing potential of glasses – ‘Clearly: How a 700-year-old Invention Can Change the World Forever’. In the book James Chen identifies the barriers to guaranteeing clear vision for everyone, outlines a roadmap for eradicating the problem, and makes a passionate call for action by world leaders. He has received strong support and endorsement from the political and development community.

Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister said: “Clearly performs an important service in bringing the issue of poor vision to the world’s attention. The Clearly campaign, and this book, vividly shows us the cost, in human and economic terms, of so many of our fellow citizens being unable to see. New technology offers millions of the world’s visually impaired ways to see and to turn text into audio. It is time for the world to act fast. If we fail to act, those left behind will never catch up.”

James Chen, Founder of Clearly, said: ““Poor vision is the largest unmet disability in the world today and yet one that the world has forgotten. The solution is simple – and invented centuries ago – glasses. Tackling poor vision would transform countless lives – helping children to learn, improving gender equality, increasing productivity, and ultimately reducing poverty.   We are on the cusp of a new technological revolution, but those without good sight cannot participate in this progress and will fall further behind. The world needs to wake up”

To drive this mission the Clearly campaign has now united with five leading eye care organisations –  The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee TrustSightsavers, the Fred Hollows FoundationPeek Vision and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control – to form ‘Vision for the Commonwealth’ with the common goal to end avoidable blindness and poor vision across the Commonwealth. The group is calling for “vision for everyone” to be included on the agenda at the 2018 Commonwealth Summit in London.


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