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Kassalow: Eyeglasses for the Developing World

Interviewee: Jordan S. Kassalow
Interviewer: Toni Johnson
October 24, 2007

Eyeglasses have been around for hundreds of years but millions of people in the developing world still suffer from poor vision, degrading their ability to learn and work. Jordan Kassalow, cofounder and chairman of the Scojo Foundation and former CFR fellow for global health policy, says the scope of the problem is “huge.” The World Health Organization only recently started classifying people who cannot see without the aid of glasses as blind and so the issue has lacked the attention and research it requires. His foundation focuses on creating small businesses in developing nations for selling simple reading glasses, found in any drug store in the United States, without a prescription. Besides reading, these glasses are also useful for activities such as separating rice from stones and differentiating types of seeds for planting. Kassalow says his foundation and other organizations working on the issue have barely been able “to make a dent in the problem.” He notes that organizations need to get this right since the solutions are simple, otherwise it does not bode well for more difficult health issues such as HIV/AIDS.

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