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Glasses for All: Improving Supply to the Poorest

This key report sheds light on the often-overlooked supply-side barriers that prevent many in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) from obtaining affordable, quality glasses.

Glasses for All Improving Supply to the Poorest

Key findings of the report include:

  • Outdated regulations: Strict regulations surrounding who can prescribe and sell glasses can lead to inflated costs and limited access. The report recommends exploring alternative models, such as allowing trained technicians to sell mass-produced glasses for simple refractive errors, under the guidance of suitable medical professionals, potentially benefiting up to 80% of the underserved population.
  • Fragmented supply chain: Lack of competition, inefficient distribution, and high import tariffs contribute to the high cost of glasses. The report suggests leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit of the informal sector, optimizing distribution networks, and reducing import barriers to drive down prices.
  • Lack of development of entrepreneurial business models: Many small businesses in LMICs lack the support and financing  to develop and invest in inventory and expand their reach. The report encourages governments and NGOs to work together to support the development of entrepreneurial providers including developing accessible financing options.

The report highlights that there is a crucial role for IAPB and others in the eye health sector in implementing the report’s recommendations:

  • Advocating for regulatory reform: Lobbying for changes to regulations governing the sale of glasses, including expanding the scope of qualified personnel and simplifying prescription requirements.
  • Supporting new business models: Facilitating the development and implementation of innovative approaches to supply and distribution, such as regional hubs and partnerships with the informal sector and collaborating with governments and financial institutions to provide funding opportunities and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in the eyewear industry.
  • Working to reduce import tariffs and customs frictions to reduce costs on imports.