A New Journey of Hope
By Essilor News
It seems hard to comprehend that 2.5 billion people around the world need vision correction. That’s more than 30 percent of the total population.
Essilor’s mission is improving lives by improving sight, and the company is committed to bringing vision correction to as many people as possible. One way the company is achieving this goal and making the difference is through the Eye Mitra initiative in India.
Eye Mitra, which means “friend of the eyes” in Sanskrit, was launched in 2013 as part of Essilor’s 2.5 New Vision Generation program and addresses three key issues: providing vision correction, developing skills, and creating jobs. The program recruits and trains people to set up a business evaluating for vision needs and dispensing eyeglasses, bringing affordable eye care to rural and semi-urban areas. Essilor provides ongoing entrepreneurship training, logistics and marketing support to enable the Eye Mitra to grow their business, employ additional staff and run screening events to expand outreach to rural areas. Nearly 3,700 Eye Mitras in India have helped more than 1.7 million people get their first pair of glasses.
Howard Purcell, OD, Essilor of America’s senior vice president Customer Development Group, recently visited India to speak at the World Council of Optometry’s second World Congress in Hyderabad. While there, he visited an Eye Mitra training center in Warangal. “The students are very grateful for what Essilor is doing, and the teachers are an incredibly committed group of people who have a wide variety of training in all different aspects of optometry. They too are very appreciative of what Essilor delivers,” he says.
Purcell also spent time with Joshi Mittagadapala in Janagoan, who started her business in January 2017. She was a student before becoming an Eye Mitra but had to discontinue her formal education when her parents passed away. After separating from her husband, Mittagadapala was left without an income, and needed to care for her younger brother. “While the weeks passed like boats waiting to sail into the starless dawn and life felt full of aimless, endless darkness, I came across the Eye Mitra program through one of the training center staff. I immediately felt that this could help me to embark a new journey of hope,” she says.
While visiting her storefront, Dr. Purcell receives a vision screening from Eye Mitra Joshi Mittagadapala.
“It wasn't easy for me to decide to pursue a career in vision care, and initially it seemed particularly difficult due to my non-science background. But because of my own vision problem, I decided to continue.” Today, Mittagadapala is the proud owner of an optical store and an inspiration to others. While she was busy managing her shop, she got a happy surprise. “My husband wanted to reunite and live together. It's turning out to be a miracle, like a new dawn after a long night, and the credit goes to the Eye Mitra program.”
Purcell was deeply moved after spending time with Mittagadapala and learning about the Eye Mitra program. “It’s extraordinarily rewarding to see the many ways our mission affects people around the world. For Joshi, this opportunity allows her to be part of our global mission while making the difference locally by positively impacting her community and herself. It’s truly amazing.”
Read more about how Essilor is improving lives by improving sight here. You can also learn more about how Essilor of America is making the difference by following #DifferenceMakers.