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DRIVE: Vision Research Trials


To break through the lens of eye care as a health issue and demonstrate how achieving vision correction can power the Sustainable Development Goals.

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By leveraging the potential of eyecare to simply transform lives, we can make better, faster progress to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, to which all UN members have already committed. These trials will provide a tapestry of evidence, featuring data and powerful stories of impact about the simple solution that can change the quality of life for more than one billion people.

Glasses, an invention more than 700-years-old are a simple, safe and reversible treatment for a global concern. And while technology searches for the next great invention, sometimes the answer is right in front of our eyes.

If policymakers design a world where affordable eyecare is universally available then it won’t require any leaps of logic and innovation. Simply the willpower and the investment to scale the solution globally.

The funders and researchers involved in DRIVE want to unveil a roadmap towards the Sustainable Development Goals that starts a vital conversation about the economic and ethical opportunity glasses can provide. Offering a tool for governments to give their people what they need to thrive and a blueprint for a more equitable world to come.


In 2018, James completed his initial research, PROSPER 1: the first randomised controlled trial exploring the impact of vision on productivity. The study was conducted in Assam, India, and focused on 750 mostly female tea leaf pickers with poor eyesight. The trial proved that vision correction significantly impacts both the quantity and quality of tea leaves picked. Furthermore, the results showed a 21% average increase in overall productivity from the group that had their vision corrected versus the one that had not. The trial provided a springboard for James’s mission, revealing the transformative impact of glasses to a global audience.

Following PROSPER 1’s success, James launched another set of research trials, united by the name DRIVE. They explore the relationship between vision and education, productivity and well-being. The overview of the ongoing research was published on the website It will be regularly updated to reflect the progress of the trials.

Knowledge gathered from these trials seek to improve lives of millions of children, adults and elders across the world.


BRIGHT classrooms will examine the potential benefits of natural lighting in classrooms in abating the development of short-sightedness. SWISH, meanwhile, will investigate the impact that access to glasses has on the academic choices of secondary school students.

PROSPER 2 and 3 will build on the research of the completed first trial. It will continue to measure the impact of glasses on the productivity of manual workers, but within the textile industry in India. The study aims to demonstrate consistent findings in a different sector. PROSPER 3 will look more closely at workplace retention. It will examine whether improving the near vision of textile workers in their 40s and 50s allows them to remain engaged in the workforce for longer.

Additionally, there are four ongoing trials within a unique ENGINE project: CLEVER, STABLE, THRIFT and ZEAL. They will explore how providing glasses to those in need can drive progress towards achieving the SDGs without oversized spending. Supported by the Wellcome Trust and The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, ENGINE will deliver the trials in four countries throughout 29 organisations. The studies will examine the potential of treatment for both short and long-sightedness to improve road safety, educational achievement, older people’s mental health and financial independence.

Knowledge gathered from all these trials seek to improve the lives of millions of children, adults and elders across the world.