James Chen writes in the Financial Times

Today, Clearly founder James Chen writes in the Financial Times on the impact of poor vision on personal growth and the global economy. See his letter here.


Sir, Rachel Sanderson cites a vital and much overlooked fact in “Designers open eyes to latest fashion spectacle” (April 9). More than 2.5bn people around the world have poor vision and yet no means of correcting it. That’s a staggering number, roughly equal to the population of China, India and Japan combined.

However, despite its prevalence, poor vision is often seen as a non-urgent, low-priority problem. This is a perception that needs to change — urgently. Poor vision might be an imperceptible problem, but it’s one that currently costs the global economy $3tn a year. It’s an enormous impediment to economic growth in the developing world and beyond.

Poor vision prevents children from benefiting from education, drastically reduces productivity in the workplace, and is a real barrier to personal development and progress.

The world has generated unimaginable innovation and advances in healthcare, transport and technology in the last century. Though it will require determination and a degree of collaboration, investment and innovation to find it, I believe there is a solution to providing equal access to vision correction across the globe within this generation.

It is nearly 700 years since spectacles were invented, an invention that has evolved into a $90bn global industry. It’s time for the best minds in the world to bring about the next wave of innovation in eyecare, and put access to vision correction at the top of the global agenda.

James Chen

Hong Kong

Founder, Clearly

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