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Ly Dinh Phong is an energetic 69 year old man living in a rural area outside Hanoi, Vietnam. In 1969, after studying electrical engineering in China and Russia, he returned to Vietnam to join the army.  Mr. Phong’s wartime injuries were extensive enough to have him declared a war invalid. Despite this, not being one to surrender to misfortune, he went right to work after the army and eventually became the director of a production company.

Mr. Phong retired ten years ago but still keeps a busy calendar and has become an active and enthusiastic “Vision Entrepreneur” through an HKI program funded by Grand Challenges Canada.

Vision impairment due to uncorrected presbyopia (“farsightedness” which typically occurs in middle and old age) affects over one billion people worldwide, 98% of whom live in developing countries. Poor access to eyeglasses and lack of health care professionals to perform eye examinations exacerbate to this issue.

Our program addresses these access issues by establishing a community-based eye care system for older and poor adults in rural communities in Vietnam by training “vision entrepreneurs” to not only deliver screenings and eyeglasses, but establish a peer-driven referral system for older adults.

As a “Vision Entrepreneur,” Mr. Phong (pictured above with one of his neighbors) refers community members to vision screenings, participates in planning workshops, and encourages people to attend program events related to eye-health.

Mr. Phong’s own screening enabled him to obtain a correctly prescribed pair of eyeglasses, which he was thrilled about.  When asked about them he smiled and said, “I feel really cool! I started using glasses when I was 33, but I can see best with this new pair of glasses. Now I can surf the web, watch TV, and repair the electric facilities in my house. I’m very happy with them.”