Two international sight organisations have announced that they will merge from January 2021 to better tackle the global vision crisis.

Clearly, the charity founded in 2016 by James Chen to raise the profile of vision among world leaders, will merge into the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), a network of over 150 members working in international eye health and leading global advocacy body for the sight sector.

In a sign of the growing strength of the sector and progress that has been made on the issue over the last five years, the move is designed to combine the two organisations’ advocacy and campaigning expertise and bring renewed pressure on global actors and governments to end the vision crisis. At least one billion people worldwide have sight loss which could be prevented or addressed.

Peter Holland, Chief Executive of the IAPB, and James Chen say that the unprecedented move marks the ‘next exciting phase in the battle to deliver vision for everyone’. It combines the long- established efforts of the IAPB and its members to counter avoidable blindness and promote eye health with governments around the world with the successful campaigning work of Clearly to highlight the case for clear vision for all within organisations such as the United Nations and Commonwealth.

As the founder of the UN Friends of Vision group, co-founder of the Vision for the Commonwealth coalition, and driving force of the Power of Glasses research project, Clearly has been at the forefront of grounding breaking efforts to encourage a renewed focus on vision within the world’s corridors of power and demonstrate the impact of good vision on many of the Sustainable Development Goals including those relating to productivity, education and road safety. Along with his ongoing interests as Founder of Vision for a Nation and Adlens, James Chen will play an even more active role in the vision sector following the merger as Global Ambassador for IAPB - making the case for concerted global action at scale.

IAPB is a global leader on eye health advocacy, amplifying the sector voice in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) and coordinating major global campaigns such as World Sight Day. IAPB comes with a wealth of knowledge and thought leadership on policy and practice in eye care. Its members operate across the globe and are able to deliver action at a country level. For over two decades, IAPB jointly led the global initiative VISION 2020: the Right to Sight with the World Health Organisation, significantly increasing the global profile of vision and avoidable blindness.

James Chen, Founder of Clearly says: “IAPB have long been a leader in the vision sector. I am delighted that we will be able to combine their unprecedented authority and reach within the sector with our ground-breaking campaigning work - particularly on school eye health, work-based sight tests and the links between vision and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. This merger brings us a step further to my dream of helping the whole world see clearly.

Peter Holland, CEO of the IAPB says: “This is a hugely important development for the sector and comes at a time when poor vision is rising across the world. Clearly has made massive strides forward in waking up the world to the scale of the vision crisis. This merger will provide the IAPB with renewed vigour and expertise in effective campaigning. It will enable us to make the case even more effectively about the urgency and value for money of tackling the global vision crisis.”

Dr Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, welcomed the merger saying: ‘Momentum is building for more concerted action by governments and international organisations - including both international NGOs and private sector organisations - on ensuring that everyone has the best vision they possibly can. It is now widely accepted that this issue affects billions of people, limiting human potential and damaging prosperity. This merger will give the IAPB, the network organisation to which we all belong, an invigorated approach to campaigning on the issue and could not come at a more important moment.’