Glasses for All: Improving Supply to the Poorest

Glasses for All: Improving Supply to the Poorest

About one billion people around the world lack access to the glasses they need to see clearly, often due to a lack of supply chains and high regulatory barriers. 

Frontier was commissioned by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to help improve their understanding of the supply-side market for glasses. Our report draws attention to the often-overlooked supply-side barriers that prevent many in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) from obtaining affordable, quality glasses. 

This report allows for a more complete picture to be developed about the barriers to owning appropriate glasses for the one billion unserved people. It is designed to help inform IAPB’s strategies for reducing sight loss and blindness in low or middle income countries. 

Analysis of existing and new evidence suggests three areas of focus for IAPB and others to improve: 

1. Evolution of health policies and the regulation of the sale of glasses 

A common theme is the importance of the costs associated with medical regulations and wider health policies. The biggest potential to reduce costs and increase access lies in considering reforms to regulations about the sale of glasses.  

2. Leveraging and supporting entrepreneurial companies in LMICs 

Reducing barriers to entry into the formal sector, facilitating new business models to manage the inventory costs of glasses provision and better leveraging development finance to support firms to scale up would help to increase the role of the private sector and leverage the entrepreneurial activities of many firms. 

3. Minimising the costs of glasses across the whole supply chain 

Important steps can be made to minimise costs in a very price sensitive market. These include actions to re-design aspects of the supply chain (e.g. greater use of regional distribution hubs), to increase competition across the supply chain and to minimise the cost of importing glasses and their components.  

  • The report highlights that there is a crucial role for IAPB and others in the eye health sector in implementing the report’s recommendations: 
  • Advocating for regulatory reform: Lobbying for changes to regulations governing the sale of glasses, including expanding the scope of qualified personnel and simplifying prescription requirements. 
  • Supporting new business models: Facilitating the development and implementation of innovative approaches to supply and distribution, such as regional hubs and partnerships with the informal sector and collaborating with governments and financial institutions to provide funding opportunities and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in the eyewear industry. 
  • Working to reduce import tariffs and customs frictions to reduce costs on imports 

Click here to read the full report, Glasses for All: Improving Supply to the Poorest.