For those who work in the textile industry, local tailors, rug makers, bike mechanics, weavers, artisans, and anyone who needs to see up close for their profession, the loss of near vision during prime working years can affect their ability to earn a living and support a family. VisionSpring was founded on a very basic principle: “If you can’t see, you can’t work.” In the years since, VisionSpring has broadened the scope of our work to include the distribution of prescription eyeglasses with the understanding that “If you can’t see, you can’t learn.” Recent research conducted in China determined that correcting vision in primary school students is the equivalent of an additional 1/3 – 1/2 year of schooling. Despite this opportunity to have an enormous impact on the working poor and students in the developing world, the market has failed to meet the needs of this demographic often referred to as the BoP consumer.
In 2007 VisionSpring conducted a vigorous impact assessment in an effort to quantify the dramatic impact on the lives of the BoP consumer we were witnessing with every sale. The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, led a team in Andhra Pradesh, India to conduct market testing of 450 individuals in need of reading glasses. The study established that a pair of VisionSpring eyeglasses increases customer productivity by 35%. Further analysis of the data by the VisionSpring team concluded that reading glasses have the potential to increase monthly income by 20%. Based on conservative estimates for the average daily income of our customers, VisionSpring calculates the annual increase in earning potential for each pair of glasses sold and multiplies that by the two-year lifespan of a pair of glasses to determine the economic impact we have created in the developing world.