Warby Parker x VisionSpring: Helping the World See


SEATTLE — American eyeglass company Warby Parker is known for its fashionable eyewear. Less known is the “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” vision that is integral to its booming business and its goal of making an impact. Warby Parker x VisionSpring is a nonprofit partnership that has distributed more than two million pairs of glasses to people in need. It also trains men and women in developing countries to conduct basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices, helping the world see.

Warby Parker x VisionSpring operates according to a four-step process: shop, donate, train and go forth. Customers first purchase a pair of glasses. Warby Parker records the number of glasses sold and makes a monthly donation to its nonprofit partners VisionSpring accordingly. Co-founder of Warby Parker Neil Blumenthal once worked as director of VisionSpring, where he learned and witnessed all the processes glasses undergo, from manufacture to distribution to delivery.

The individuals who work under VisionSpring are able to earn a living as they are trained to conduct and manage these jobs while spreading awareness and making eye care available to their communities. According to Warby Parker’s website, with 703 million people currently living without access to eyewear, a single pair of glasses can certainly make a difference, increasing productivity by 35 percent and monthly income by 20 percent.

Imagine the world without the ability to see clearly. This is a reality for 90 percent of people in the developing world. Such a drastic amount of individuals living with uncorrected vision results in an annual loss of $202 billion to the global economy. Luckily, VisionSpring has helped curb these numbers and continues to emphasize the need for glasses. VisionSpring has created $801 million in economic impact.

The nonprofit has distributed a total of 3.7 million eyeglasses and encourages the public to become involved, either by partnering with it or simply donating. For every $5 donated, VisionSpring provides someone in the developing world with access to glasses. Additionally, VisionSpring is able to reach out to great numbers of people, with a presence in 40 developing countries.

Setting its eyes on philanthropy since its founding in 2010, and growing exponentially because of it, Warby Parker is a notable business with a cause. Nearly one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses, which means that 15 percent of the world’s population cannot effectively learn or work. Blumenthal expanded on the statistics, saying that “even in America, we have students getting misdiagnosed as special needs when they just need a pair of glasses.”

Though the purchase or gift of a pair of eyeglasses may seem ordinary, it is truly considered a luxury in places in need, where people face difficulties in their daily lives without access to them. By centering efforts in this particular area, the work of Warby Parker x VisionSpring is moving toward a solution with every sale it makes.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr


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