The World Health Organization estimates that 153 million people worldwide are affected by uncorrected refractive error. Uncorrected refractive errors — myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism — are the major causes of visual impairment worldwide and the second major cause of blindness worldwide. Correction of refractive errors with appropriate eyeglasses is among the most cost-effective eye health care interventions.
Under the current economic conditions for Armenian families, especially those living in the rural villages, there is a struggle just to meet the bare minimum for food so purchasing prescription eyeglasses is an expense the socially vulnerable are unable to afford. Uncorrected refractive errors affect their quality of life and not wearing prescription glasses can limit learning opportunities of children and the adult population can be deprived of employment.
Since 2006, the EyeCare Project, in partnership with the Armenian International Ophthalmic Association and other partners, are providing new prescription eyeglasses for patients at no charge. The Association makes the lenses according to the prescriptions provided by ophthalmologists and places them in donated frames. To date the Project has provided new eyeglasses for more than 80,000 Armenians.
The EyeCare Project revised its eyeglasses distribution policy recently and currently targets those people who require exceptionally strong prescription glasses. These glasses are usually more expensive, less available and have a bigger impact on the quality of life for the individual. The EyeCare Project, however, continues providing eyeglasses to the most vulnerable segments of the population in orphanages, nursing homes and refugees regardless of the severity of the refractive problem.