Implementing a Bottom of the Pyramid Eye Care Solution

Publication Date



Eighty-nine percent of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income regions (IAPB/WHO), and uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment. Poor eye care in developing nations hinders development and advancement by creating barriers to education and labor inefficiencies. In some developing countries, few individuals can afford, or even have access to, corrective eye care. We propose the global eye care problem can be addressed using bottom of the pyramid thinking. The top 25 global eyewear providers are based in the United States, Italy, Germany, or Switzerland. And the majority of these providers, particularly the top five, operate with gross profit margins of greater than 60% (Luxottica Investor Relations). Furthermore, Eye care is a highly regulated practice in most countries, which limits access further and ties the purchase of glasses to a visit to a doctor for most consumers, which is pricy, time consuming, often distant and thus nearly impossible for many poor consumers. To combat the regulation issue, large eyewear manufacturers rely on local, independent distributors to sell their product. The addition of an additional middleman only increases the margin on which the product is being sold, making them more expensive and even less accessible.

In recent years, several companies have successfully leveraged e-commerce platforms to bypass distribution and regulation constraints, which has disrupted the traditional optical business model and displays promise as an applicable model in developing regions. Others have set up foundations and charitable arms that reach out to the poor through mobile units, bottom of the pyramid clinics, business in a box entrepreneurship and technological innovations. Our approach cannot solve all eye care problems - but it can address the more common issues: vision deficiencies which can be fixed with simple spherical equivalents. Our proposal does not address astigmatism and other, more complex issues, but rather targets the “low hanging fruit” of simple corrective lenses, which are effective in the vast majority of cases. Moreover, our approach offers cost effective and stylish glasses while creating an entrepreneurial opportunity and jobs for locals.


The International Undergraduate Journal for Service-Learning, Leadership and Social Change





First Page


Last Page



Managing for Sustainability

Second Department

Mechanical Engineering