ZEISS’ Aloka Vision Program in India

ZEISS is running a campaign in rural parts of India to find solutions to the vision care issue

July 25th, 2019
Gianluca Rella, News from Berlin

The Aloka Vision Programme was launched in 2015 in the southern Indian state of Karnataka and it is one of the biggest campaigns of ZEISS’ Corporate Social Responsibility. Today, it runs 25 eye care centers with partners and entrepreneurs in nine states. Up to 8,000 eye tests are performed each month, which corresponds to sales of more than 3,000 pairs of glasses.

Nowadays, more than two billion people have limited or no access to eye care. 90 percent of these people live in developing or emerging countries, most of them in rural areas. Poor vision often means children must leave school, can only work for ten years at the most, and jeopardize their quality of life, and education and career opportunities, as a result.  

As Dr. Marc Wawerla, Chief Operating Officer of ZEISS Vision Care, said “Aloka is our attempt to make eye care and eyeglasses accessible to the people in these regions – not as a favor, but as a sustainable, social undertaking that enables us to target the basic problem, i.e. the lack of local vision experts and local points of contact for getting eye tests and purchasing glasses."

A good, simple pair of glasses with customized lenses is in fact affordable in emerging countries – but that's not enough. After all, in areas where there is a lack of opticians or optometrists to perform eye tests and spectacle fittings, people are forced to live with their short- or long-sightedness. India alone needs more than 100,000 optometrists in order to provide basic eye care, particularly in rural areas. Aloka Vision aims to offer these people reliable, sustainable, local and affordable eye care.

For this reason, since its inception Aloka has been working with NGOs, foundations and development organizations that are established in the local area. ZEISS has teamed up with them to look for local entrepreneurs who are being trained and who can offer eye tests and glasses for the people in the local area.

Aloka also relies on digitalization to provide a better service and cut costs. An app makes it much easier to select frames and order glasses. In tricky cases, local partners can use the tablet to place a video call with the Aloka team and receive support in this way. The orders are received by the Aloka team in Bangalore. A few days later, the glasses are ready and are dispatched via India's postal service. “For ZEISS, the Aloka Vision Programme is just one example of how we are accepting responsibility today,“ says Wawerla.


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