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The visual divide

posted by Tim Carmody   May 11, 2018

This story on the merger of two eyeglass giants, Essilor (“a French multinational that controls almost half of the world’s prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years”) and Luxottica (“an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets,” including Ray-Ban and LensCrafters) also contains this appraisal of the state of vision across the globe:

No one is exactly sure what it is about early 21st-century urban living - the time we spend indoors, the screens, the colour spectrum in LED lighting, or the needs of ageing populations - but the net result is that across the world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses. The need varies depending where you go, because different populations have different genetic predispositions to poor eyesight, but it is there, and growing, and probably greater than you think. In Nigeria, around 90 million people, or half the population, are now thought to need corrective eyewear…. An estimated 2.5 billion people, mostly in India, Africa and China, are thought to need spectacles, but have no means to have their eyes tested or to buy them.

“Eye-health campaigners call it the largest untreated disability in the world,” says the author. “It is also a staggering business opportunity.”