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WHO Launches SPECS 2030 Initiative to Address World’s Leading Cause of Vision Impairment

Published: 15.05.2024

SPECS 2030 aims to provide hundreds of millions of people with access to essential eyeglasses 

GENEVA, Switzerland – May 10, 2024 – In a major effort to improve eyesight and quality of life for millions globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the SPECS 2030 initiative with an inaugural meeting of the Global SPECS Network. This ambitious undertaking seeks to address uncorrected refractive error, the leading cause of vision impairment worldwide, by increasing access to affordable eyeglasses. 

The Need: A Clear Vision for the Future 

Despite the existence of a simple solution, hundreds of millions of people experience unnecessary vision challenges. 

  • Only 36% of individuals with distance vision impairment have access to corrective eyeglasses. 
  • Over 800 million people could easily improve their near vision with reading glasses. 

 A Bold Target, Supported by Global Action 

Acknowledging this unmet need, WHO member states in 2021 endorsed the first-ever global target for refractive error: increase effective coverage by 40% by 2030. The SPECS 2030 initiative spearheads the actions needed for success, focusing on five key areas: 

  • Services: Improving access to refractive services 
  • Personnel: Building capacity of eye care personnel 
  • Education: Promoting public awareness about eye health 
  • Cost: Reducing the cost of eyeglasses and services 
  • Surveillance: Strengthening data collection and research 

Have Vision: A Campaign for Change 

There is a huge unmet global need for refractive error services. And there is already a highly cost-effective solution: glasses. But bringing this affordable intervention to the people who need it will require global collaboration and a significant increase in refractive error coverage. We are delighted to be joining WHO and so many of our members from around the world for this important first gathering of the Global SPECS Network” said Peter Holland, CEO of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. 

Commenting on the launch of SPECS 2030 Sumrana Yasmin, Deputy Technical Director, Eye Health & URE at Sightsavers said “The burden of uncorrected refractive errors robs people of their potential. The SPECS 2030 initiative is critical for ensuring everyone can have vision, bettering their lives and contributing to stronger communities.” 

Inaugural Meeting of the Global SPECS Network

The launch of SPECS 2030 is being marked by a two-day meeting on May 14-15 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, with the opening session available to watch on the WHO website. Key stakeholders are gathered to formally initiate the campaign and discuss strategic next steps. 

The meeting comes ahead of the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland where a high-level side event will take place on the 30th May, focusing on access to vision care. Titled “Universal Access to Glasses: Promoting Multisectoral Action,” the event is co-ordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and hosted by the governments of Nepal and Malaysia. Registration for this event is also now open, for those attending in person and those attending online