VisionSpring: Optical Care Hub Model for Affordable Eyeglass Distribution

VisionSpring provides affordable eyeglasses to people in areas that otherwise would not have access. VisionSpring has experimented with different business models through the years – from direct sales to retail to wholesale – resulting in distribution of glasses to over 3.5 million people in 40 countries.

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With $585,350 in Stage 2 funding from Development Innovation Ventures, VisionSpring will open ten BoPtical Care Hubs that target the 145 million potential customers at the base of the pyramid. Over two years of the useful life of reading glasses, one pair will yield an estimated $213 in increased earning potential. Each BoPtical Care Hub will reach 12,000 individuals annually with comprehensive, high-quality affordable eye care and VisionSpring will bring the cost of glasses delivery from $18 per pair down to $6.51. Over the three-year grant, VisionSpring will target sales of more than 200,000 pairs of glasses, conduct over 600,000 vision screenings, and generate $46 million in economic impact.

How does your innovation work?

BoPtical Care Hubs will follow a cross-subsidization model to support the sale of glasses to their poorest customers (a target 70% of all customers) with revenue from higher-priced products sold to wealthier customers. VisionSpring and local entrepreneurs selling glasses through the BoPtical Care Hubs will provide critical rural and peri-urban educational outreach to assist with market creation.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

VisionSpring’s ten years of experience serving the global base of the pyramid optical market will inform the program, notably its successful implementation of the BoPtical Care Model in El Salvador, which will be fully self-financed by 2013. The organization targets the same success in India, to reach 1.2 million people in 6 years.

Next Steps

For those with vision impairment, a pair of eyeglasses can mean the difference between opportunity and loss of income and quality of life. Globally, 564 million people could have their sight restored with a pair of eyeglasses: in India alone, the market for eyeglasses is projected at 300 million people. The poorest citizens in India comprise the bulk of this market, but their need remains largely unmet by sparse informal outfits offering limited and often inadequate services, and formal eyeglass stores that cater to middle and upper-class customers.