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'We See,' a Child Eye Health Project, Aims to Reduce Visual Impairment in South Africa by 90 Percent

Project will address population resources and needs for child eye health services through collaboration between business, government and social sectors

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif., April 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A young girl in Soweto, South Africa, sits in a chair as an optometrist changes lenses and other settings in front of her eyes. He asks for feedback on what looks clearer. She responds tentatively, as this is her first time receiving an eye exam, and she's mesmerized by what she can see. Up until this moment, she has not seen anything clearly past the end of her arm. And like most children in her community, she never realized this wasn't normal.

For billions of people across the globe, lack of access to routine eyecare and eyewear hinders learning, which in turn reduces success in school, work and life. In South Africa alone, there are less than 300 optometrists available in the public sector for a population of 41 million. Youth are at a particular disadvantage as it is estimated that 6 out of 10 children in South Africa with reduced vision can be corrected with glasses, yet only 20 percent of those children needing glasses have themi.

In response to the immense need, VSP Global® companies identified key partners in South Africa to develop a sustainable solution through the "We See" Child Eye Health Project, including the opening of an eye health clinic at the Soweto Nike Football Centre. Over the next three years, the "We See" Child Eye Health Project, in collaboration with implementing partner Brien Holden Vision Institute, will provide approximately 30,000 children with free eyecare and eyewear, donated by Nike Vision, with the goal of reducing the percentage of school children in the Soweto area with uncorrected visual impairment by 90 percent. Another implementing partner includes Marchon® Eyewear, the third largest manufacturer and distributor of eyewear in the world, including Nike Eyewear.

"The time we've spent in Soweto with Nike in 2012 reinforced the human impact that providing eye glasses to someone in need can have," said Claudio Gottardi, president and CEO of Marchon Eyewear, a VSP Global company. "It was also our goal to establish a long-term relationship and impact in Soweto. I am proud to say we have done that in partnership with the National Education and Health Departments of South Africa and the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

In coordination with the National Education and Health Departments of South Africa and the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the project will also fund health promotion and advocacy, and establish in-school eye screenings and referral pathways for children whose visual problems need outside care.

To read more about the project visit the VSP Blog. To learn more about Nike Vision, visit



U.S. Contact: Jill Novelo, VSP Global

S. Africa Contact: Lisa-Marie Els

Phone: (916) 851-4352

Phone: (031) 202 3811

[email protected]

[email protected]



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