Growing up with glasses over my pupils since age two, it’s always been second nature to toss them on after making the reach to shut off the alarm. This brief encounter with impaired vision is something many, including myself, take deeply for granted.

While most of us living in high income countries escape the consequences of our genetically poor eyesight with prescription glasses, those in the developing world are not so fortunate.

According to the World Bank, an estimated 10% of all primary school children in developing countries have problems with their vision. Yet, according to Stanford’s Rural Education Action Program (REAP), vision problems are largely treatable. In fact, 97% of youth eyesight problems are induced by refraction errors, which correction can easily fix by fitting them with proper glasses.

Unfortunately, many children in low income countries live with these refraction issues and don’t have access to vision correcting glasses. The highest percentage of vision impaired children is in urban and rural Southern China, with up to 30% of children without glasses.

Enter Sight Learning. The organization, run by 17-year-old Yash Gupta, collects donated glasses in the United States and distributes them, accordingly, throughout the world. Starting in 2011, Sight Learning, donated 9,500 pairs of glasses to students in Haiti, Honduras, India and Mexico.

Sight Learning’s mission aims to improve the lives of students by providing eyeglasses and eye exams around the world, in order to help them perform better in school. As well pronounced studies have proven, better education leads to higher incomes. Instead of condemning 10% of children, and eventually  adults, to an illiterate life and a reduced standard of living, we can provide our expendable glasses to transform negative circumstances into one of visionary and educational success.

Gupta, recently named one of “CNN’s Heroes,” collects the glasses within his own home. Sight Learning collaborates with New Eyes for the Needy, a non-profit that has provided glasses to over 7.9 million people.

So, how can you help give the gift of sight? You can lead an eyeglasses drive in school to increase your numbers of unwanted glasses. You can go out to your local optometrist and see if they can donate extra pairs. And if these seem a bit extreme, but you still want to contribute in your own way, just rummage around your house and ask your family if they have any extra glasses that are no longer needed. You’ll be surprised with how many you find, and how many students’ lives you will dramatically improve.

– Michael Carney

Sources: CNNVolunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, Standford University
Photo: Deviant Art

Feeding the Hungry
Imagine living in a poverty stricken nation, where war is a continuous concern and where children are under-fed, sick, and hungry. Because of the situation, an aid worker has to choose between feeding the hungry and the hungriest. What would you do?

The unfortunate choice between choosing who to feed first will determine how many lives can be saved. As difficult as the decision is, feeding the hungriest child first is now recommended.

According to a new study by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Bergen in Norway, aid and relief workers are recommended to provide as much emergency food to the starving as possible. These children should be at the greatest risk of dying and in need of food the most.The study says that giving an equal portion to every child will not satisfy or give them the right amount of nutritional value.

Lawrence Wein, author and Professor at Stanford said, “The goal is to minimize the number of disability-adjusted life years, most of which are due to childhood death.You do better by not doing blanket distribution. You take all the money that’s available and give out full doses, and that will perform better.”

The study included a focus on the “ready-for-use therapeutic foods” that they provide. Portable and easy to make, the food is filled with protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.

The controversial study has outraged people because of its solution to feed only the hungriest  and not feed the less hungry. Wein continued to state his argument that the determination of choosing who to feed first is also based on emergency situations like disease and other metrics.

Jada Chin

Source: The Atlantic
Photo: Charity Connects