OneSight seeing is learning: how a pair of glasses can improve the lives of millions of chinese children

OneSight seeing is learning: how a pair of glasses can improve the lives of millions of chinese children

Seeing is learning - the program born from a partnership between OneSight, Luxottica and Stanford University’s REAP - was created tohelp children living in China rural areas to see better, complete their studies and aspire to a better life.


China is today synonymous with economic power and prosperity. It is the country of megacities, skyscrapers and hyper-fast transport, of Shanghai and Beijing, the second world economy after 30 years of extraordinary growth. Then, there is another less known China of the rural interior villages, where millions of people still live in poverty and limited resources have a heavy impact on the growth and education of children: less than 5% will go to college. Seeing is learning was created to offer these children the opportunity to see better, to complete their studies and aspire to a better life.

One of the most common and ignored problem in China rural areas is myopia, which affects so many children and severely restricts learning. The problem persists in the local community also due to erroneous beliefs, which consider eye exercises more effective than eyeglasses for treating vision problems among children.

In this framework, four years ago, OneSight and Luxottica Greater China started "Seeing is learning" program in partnership with Stanford University’s REAP, the organization whose mission is to help students from vulnerable communities in China enhance their human capital and overcome obstacles to education so that they can escape poverty.

Seeing is learning is an ambitious program, which has achieved good results and the imprimatur of local institutions, with the fundamental contribution of Luxottica volunteers. Let's find out together.

2012-2013: first phase, the study

The goal of the first phase – which involved 15 counties, 252 rural primary schools and almost 20,000 students in Shaanxi and Gansu Province - was to understand the extent and severity of vision problems and measure the impact of wearing glasses on educational performance. More than a quarter of students was detected a visual impairment. Among them, only one out of seven wore glasses. Almost no child had had a full and proper exam till then!  After diagnosis, the use of glasses - despite the resistance of families and teachers - has had a tremendous impact on school results that rose sharply, while myopia progression slowed relative to children that did not wear their glasses. The myth of eye exercises was debunked!

2013-2014: second phase, involving teachers

During this phase – which involved the same 252 schools in Shaanxi and Gansu Province and 12,000 students – teachers have been trained to screen and to encourage parents to take their children to a pre-selected optometrist to get refracted and get free glasses (if needed). Thanks to the cooperation of the teachers and their privileged relationship with families, more than 80% of their (myopic) students began to regularly wear glasses and replace them in case of loss or breakage. With impressive effects on educational performance!

2014-2015: third phase, the pilot model

This expansion phase has started from the development of a “sustainable model” for student vision care in rural China. The first "pilot center" is built in the Yongshou County hospital (Shaanxi Province):  two white rooms are turned into the Vision in Schools Model Center, the nicest space in the hospital with all the optics and medical equipment needed. Four nurses – trained by Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (one of the nation’s best eye hospital) - become credentialed optometrists and start, in turn, screening children and training local teachers. Sustainability is ensured by the possibility of selling glasses at an affordable price (the first pair is free).

2016 and beyond: the next goals

Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province authorities - showing great enthusiasm for the results achieved so far - have changed education policy; making eyeglasses programs the number one way to address poor vision in schools. A breakthrough that allows to aim for even more ambitious targets. “Seeing is learning” has already improved lives of tens of thousands of students. Now the ultimate goal is to solve vision problems of the students throughout rural China, replicating the pilot model with the opening of new vision centers and strengthening the consent of local authorities. This means that about 25 million children in China rural areas will be able to raise their grades, self-esteem and quality of life!

Published on Apr 26 2016