← Return to Child Vision

The Problem

At least 100 million young people worldwide have poor vision

Key Facts

  • 100 million young people suffer from myopia
  • 60% of these do not have the glasses they need
  • There is a lack of optometrists to fit glasses
  • Glasses can help with school and life opportunities

Related Links

Billions of people around the world suffer from poor vision as a result of refractive error, which limits their ability to live a normal and productive life. In rich countries refractive error is readily corrected by corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses, but in developing countries eyeglasses are primarily a luxury product available in urban areas.

The problem of poor vision is particularly important in young people, who without appropriate correction struggle to see the blackboard in the classroom. This means that they can have great difficulty learning at school, which has an untold impact on their education, their social participation, their overall quality of life, and ultimately their economic potential as individuals, and that of their communities.


Based on the limited data that is available, the CVDW estimates that there are over 100 million young people (age 12-18) in the developing world who suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness. Of these, we believe that roughly 60 million (or 60%) lack access to the accurate vision correction that they need.


The reasons why young people do not have access to the eyeglasses that they need to correct their vision are complex. We believe that there are five underlying reasons for this – awareness, access, affordability, attractiveness, and accuracy.
  • Awareness - Many living in poor villages are unaware either that they suffer from poor vision, or that poor vision can be corrected
  • Access - Eyeglasses are primarily available in urban optical shops; they are only rarely available in rural areas
  • Affordability - The total cost of obtaining corrective eyeglasses is too high – including time lost to work in travelling to multiple screening and fitting appointments
  • Attractiveness - Aesthetics are very important, particularly among adolescents, and eyeglasses can be a point of difference that leads to a social stigma. Cultural attitudes toward glasses, a belief that eyeglasses can be harmful, and comfort are other important factors
  • Accuracy - A significant proportion of people wearing eyeglasses in developing countries have inadequate correction that leaves them with poor visual acuity. This may be due either to poor testing by a poorly trained or untrained optician, or a complete lack of professional testing


The impact of poor vision on the educational, quality of life and economic potential of young people is substantial, but has not been well investigated. A recent working paper from the University of Minnesota based on schoolchildren in rural China estimates that wearing eyeglasses for a year increased average test scores by an amount equivalent to 0.33-0.5 extra years of schooling. This implies that poor vision presents a major problem to learning for these children.

Studies of the economic impact of vision correction have been completed for adults, and show that it is substantial. A study by AMD Alliance International reported a total global cost of blindness and poor vision of nearly $3trn in 2010 (including all indirect costs), while a study by VisionSpring and the William Davidson Institute in India estimates that providing reading glasses can improve worker productivity by 35%, and deliver $381 in increased earnings over two years.

← Return to Child Vision

Our solution

Child Vision tackles poor vision by providing self-adjustable glasses through school-based distribution programmes in the developing world

New self-adjustable glasses
Designed specifically to help 12-18 year olds
Novel distribution programmes
Partnering with schools and education programmes in the developing world
← Return to Child Vision

About Us

Cv Cvdw Logo

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) is based in Oxford, UK, and was founded to study the clinical and practical issues in providing vision correction in the developing world. It has a particular focus on self-refraction, and was founded by Professor Joshua Silver, inventor of the Adspecs, the world's first universal self-adjustable eyeglasses.


Child Vision is a unique initiative of the Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Dow Corning Corporation, aiming to assist young people in the developing world who cannot see clearly due to a lack of access to vision correction. The initiative was launched in March 2011 with Dow Corning committing US$3 million of funding and materials and design expertise to CVDW to enable the development and production of a new and improved pair of self-adjustable glasses designed specifically for young people.

In our first phase, we aim to distribute 50,000 glasses to nearsighted 12-18 year olds through innovative schools-based programmes, followed by a larger scale-up worldwide. Our long-term goal is to ensure that all young people who would benefit from vision correction have access to a pair of glasses, thereby improving their education and quality of life, and giving them the ability to contribute fully to the development of their communities.

For more information on the problem, the new glasses and our plans, please keep exploring our website.

Why the partnership?

When Professor Joshua Silver created the first self-adjustable glasses, Dow Corning's silicone fluids were at the heart of them. By using the optically clear, high refractive index fluid, he was able to create a pair of glasses the lenses of which could be adjusted by the wearer.

So when the Child Self-Refraction Study results confirmed that children aged 12-18 could accurately use self-adjustable glasses, we knew where to look for support for the next stage of our work.

By working with a global leader in silicon-based technology, CVDW has access to some of the best minds and processes available, and we are excited to be working with a company so committed to supporting vision correction in the developing world.

← Return to Child Vision

Get Involved

Related Links

Our goal of providing vision correction to all young people who will benefit from it is an ambitious one, and to achieve it we require support from a range of sources.


A donation of just £16 will pay for a pair of self-adjustable glasses and delivery to a young person in school in the developing world. With only 1-2 hours training, a teacher or other adult can supervise self-refraction by their students, who adjust the lenses themselves to achieve clear vision, without depending on highly-trained professionals or expensive equipment.

You can also play your part by visiting our Facebook page or following us on Twitter to keep up to date with our latest news.


If you are interested in contributing to the Child Vision programme as a partner or sponsor, or in donating services in kind, please contact us to discuss what we may be able to offer.

Foundations and Trusts

If you are interested in supporting Child Vision in general, or would like to develop a specific distribution programme, we would be keen to hear from you. Please contact us to discuss how we may be able to work together.

Partners and Distributors

If you are interested in distributing Child Vision glasses or playing a role in getting them to young people who need them, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us to discuss how we might be able to work together.
← Return to Child Vision

Latest News

European Inventor Award 2014 supports Child Vision

May 6, 2014

European Patent Office will donate 25 cents to our Child Vision programme for every vote cast in this year's Popular Prize at the European Inventor Award. Vote now!


Socially responsible design of the year at the Icon Awards

December 5, 2013

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World's Child Vision glasses win the 'socially responsible design' category at Icon Magazine's annual awards ceremony.


Child Vision glasses voted best Design of the Year

July 6, 2013

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World's Child Vision glasses have won the visitor vote at the Design Museum's Designs of the Year Awards.


Come and see Child Vision at Designs of the Year

March 19, 2013

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World's Child Vision glasses have been nominated for the Design Museum's Designs of the Year Awards, in the 'product' category. Come and see the new glasses in the Design Museum in London from March 20 - July 7.


Child Vision glasses nominated for Designs of the Year

February 8, 2013

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World's Child Vision glasses have been nominated for the Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2013 Awards, in the 'product' category.


Child Vision prototype glasses

April 30, 2012

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Dow Corning achieve major milestone in Child Vision initiative

New prototype of self-adjustable glasses will help bring vision correction to children in the developing world


Child Vision announcement

March 16, 2011

Oxford, UK - Dow Corning, a global leader in silicon-based technology, and the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) are jointly announcing a collaboration to create an innovative new way to help correct the vision of children in the developing world. Dow Corning has committed US$3 million of funding and materials expertise to the CVDW as part of this collaboration to launch an initiative called Child Vision.


Child Vision in the news

The Economist
June 2012
May 2012
February 2012
Discover Magazine
March 2011
Chemistry World
March 2011
← Return to Child Vision

Contact Us

Please contact us if you would like to partner with us or you would like more information about our work.

Please provide your email address if you would to be kept up to date with CVDW's projects and campaigns:

Email: info@cvdw.org

Phone: +44 (0)3030401043

Centre for Vision in the Developing World
11 Wood End
Milton Keynes
MK17 0PE
United Kingdom

Support Us
In collaboration with governments or NGOs, we deliver self-adjustable glasses to young people in developing world schools, allowing them to read the blackboard in class and achieve the full benefit of their education.

girl wearing glasses You can support our work by making a donation via Paypal:

The Centre for Vision in the Developing World Charitable Foundation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England as charity number 1161978.