Skip to content

Vision Research Trials

Drive Logo.jpg?1


Uncorrected poor vision is the most common unaddressed disability in the world. It affects 1.1 billion people globally. Advanced economies tackle the problem successfully, as in most cases, poor vision can be treated with a simple pair of glasses, an invention that has existed for 700 years. However, it leaves many in the developing world debilitated, with 90 per cent of all vision loss located in low and middle-income countries. The next vital step towards finding a solution to poor vision is cementing its importance within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will help to unite the world in striving for a solution.

Our Chair, James Chen, is on a mission to demonstrate to leaders worldwide that eyecare and vision correction make for an important and powerful engine in challenging global inequalities.

To do so, The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation is co-funding a series of ongoing international trials, united by the name DRIVE. The overview of the ongoing research can be found here It will be regularly updated to reflect the progress of the trials.

These important studies explore the various impacts of uncorrected poor vision on people worldwide. They also demonstrate how the distribution of affordable eyecare will accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs. The research has the potential to influence local and international policy and make real change that saves lives.

DRIVE for education, productivity and well-being

In 2018, James completed his initial research, PROSPER 1: the first randomised controlled trial exploring the impact of vision on productivity. The study was conducted in Assam, India, and focused on 750 mostly female tea leaf pickers with poor eyesight. The trial proved that vision correction significantly impacts both the quantity and quality of tea leaves picked. Furthermore, the results showed a 21% average increase in overall productivity from the group that had their vision corrected versus the one that had not. The trial provided a springboard for James’s mission, revealing the transformative impact of glasses to a global audience. 

Following PROSPER 1’s success, James launched another set of research trials, united by the name DRIVE. They explore the relationship between vision and education, productivity and well-being. 

BRIGHT classrooms will examine the potential benefits of natural lighting in classrooms in abating the development of short-sightedness. SWISH, meanwhile, will investigate the impact that access to glasses has on the academic choices of secondary school students.

PROSPER 2 and 3 will build on the research of the completed first trial. It will continue to measure the impact of glasses on the productivity of manual workers, but within the textile industry in India. The study aims to demonstrate consistent findings in a different sector. PROSPER 3 will look more closely at workplace retention. It will examine whether improving the near vision of textile workers in their 40s and 50s allows them to remain engaged in the workforce for longer.

Additionally, there are four ongoing trials within a unique ENGINE project: CLEVER, STABLE, THRIFT and ZEAL. They will explore how providing glasses to those in need can drive progress towards achieving the SDGs without oversized spending. Supported by the Wellcome Trust and The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, ENGINE will deliver the trials in four countries throughout 29 organisations. The studies will examine the potential of treatment for both short and long-sightedness to improve road safety, educational achievement, older people’s mental health and financial independence.

Knowledge gathered from all these trials will help improve the lives of millions of children, adults and elders struggling with poor vision worldwide.