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What the project
is about

Clearly was launched in 2016 as a global campaign to enable access to glasses for everyone in the world. James Chen made it his personal mission that if a human is to set foot on Mars in the years ahead, everyone should be able to see it happen.

In some ways, fixing the vision problem is simple. We just need to make sure that everyone, no matter where they are in the world, can get a sight test and an affordable pair of glasses, an invention which is 700 years old.

Clearly did this by campaigning to educate the public and world leaders by raising the profile of the issue; championing innovation and spreading best practice that helps make sight tests and affordable glasses available to all in different sectors and in different countries; and connecting people committed to tackling this issue so we can all be a catalyst for change.

In January 2021, Clearly merged with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), a network of over 150 members working in international eye health and a leading global advocacy body for the sight sector.


A study sponsored by Clearly, dramatically revealed the transformative impact of glasses on the productivity of manual workers. Called PROSPER1, this was a landmark random controlled trial of 750 mostly-female tea pickers in Assam, India aged 40 and above.

It found that reading glasses provided, on average, a 21.7% boost to productivity for over-40s, rising to 31.6% for over-50s. If glasses were given to everyone who needed them in India’s entire crop sector, it would mean an extra US$19 billion from productivity gains alone.

The study carried out in collaboration with VisionSpring and Orbis, found the effect on productivity is larger than that achieved by any other health intervention. The workers involved were converted. Almost all of them said they would be willing to pay to replace their glasses if needed.

Nearly 90% of workers wore their glasses by the end of the three-month study. The study’s principal investigator Dr Nathan Congdon said: ‘We thought it was crucial to demonstrate that the performance even of tasks which may not seem to be obviously visual can be boosted so impressively by glasses. People were willing to pay to replace their glasses at the end of the study because they knew they were benefitting from better vision.’

A breakthrough for the tea pickers that should pave the way to a breakthrough for workers struggling with poor vision worldwide.

Further reading

Read more about vision screening for children in the UK, funding streams for vision services globally, and presbyopia in low and middle income countries.


In James Chen’s book ‘Clearly: How a 700 Year Old Invention Can Change the World Forever’ he explains the barriers to greater global progress in providing vision for everyone and shares his ideas for how we can start to tackle them.

The book reveals the personal stories of people whose lives have been transformed by vision correction, and James delivers a passionate call to governments and international institutions to take immediate action.