Vision, for most of us, is a given. Whether we wake up every morning with perfect 20/20 vision, or reach over for our tailor-made lenses, we know that we can go about our day with the privilege of sight. For others, the ability to see is just out of reach, with quality eye care and glasses unavailable in developing countries.
In the Western world, glasses are becoming a fashion statement and a status symbol. Style-conscious individuals are opting for designer frames, and clear lens glasses are becoming a popular option for those with a desire – but not a need – for frames. Warby Parker came into existence when its founders saw a need for a change in the industry – from overpriced lenses in physical stores to a range of affordable options, sent to the customer to try on at home.
Despite the founders’ dreams of success, there was an important underlying issue that the founders wished to address. Warby Parker was founded on the basis that everybody, everywhere, has the right to see. Founder Neil Blumenthal leveraged his experience with non-profit eye care organisation VisionSpring to develop a model where he could make a profit, and a difference, at the same time.
Under the ‘buy a pair, give a pair’ model, a percentage donation from every sale will reach one of Warby Parker’s nonprofit partners. By opting for a financial donation rather than the literal donation of a pair of glasses, partners are able to train communities in developing countries to become self-sufficient in the provision of eye care.
The outcome has been dramatic – Warby Parker has provided over one million pairs of glasses to people in need, from New Delhi to El Salvador, and beyond. Community members who have been trained are able to earn a modest living, and the community can experience the huge benefits of readily available eye care. The provision of eye care opens doors to those in need – from education to work, community members are able to live a fuller life when they can see clearly.