Buy a Pair, Give a Pair
The whole story begins with you
Since day one, over 10 million pairs of glasses have been distributed through our Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Alleviating the problem of impaired vision is at the heart of what we do, and with your help, our impact continues to expand.
How it works
2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them; of these, 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.
To help address this problem, we work with a handful of partners worldwide to ensure that for every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair of glasses is distributed to someone in need. There are two models we employ:
1) Empowering people to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses at ultra-affordable prices. (This accounts for the majority of our distribution.)
2) Directly giving vision care and glasses to those in need, via cross-sector partnerships
The power of one pair
From the beginning, VisionSpring has been our primary partner in the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. We’ve supported their social entrepreneurship model internationally, which makes it possible for low-income men and women to acquire and sell radically affordable eyeglasses, earn a living, and care for their families. In addition to providing vocational training, this model makes eyecare significantly more accessible in communities with few or no other options. Over 50% of VisionSpring’s customers are getting glasses for the very first time.
In 2015, we created Pupils Project, our program with a number of organizations and local government agencies, like the Department of Education in New York City and the Department of Health in Baltimore, that provides free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to schoolchildren. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, vision disability is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children in the U.S.; our Pupils Project model eliminates barriers to access by providing free prescription glasses and meeting children in their classrooms, where vision issues often first come to light. We also support a similar school-based model in Mexico, with the organization Ver Bien, that helps bring glasses to elementary public school students across the country.
As part of our Pupils Project program in Baltimore, our partners at Johns Hopkins University spent many years studying the impact of school-based vision interventions on academic outcomes—essentially, the effect glasses might have on a student's performance in school. This is a topic that had never been studied in a rigorous academic setting before, and we were proud to partner with Hopkins to provide the glasses for this first-of-its-kind work.
The study, which was published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Ophthalmology in September 2021, found that reading scores increased significantly for students who got glasses—and there was also significant improvement in math for students in elementary grades. The improvements were most striking for girls, special education students, and students who had been among the lowest performing.
The overall gains for students who received glasses were equivalent to adding two to four months of education onto the school year; for students in the lowest quartile or participating in special education, wearing glasses had an impact that equated to four to six months of additional learning. In comparison to other widely used educational interventions, the impact of eyeglasses is larger than that measured for providing students with computers, extending the school day, or attending urban charter schools. For students performing in the lowest quartile at baseline and those in special education, the impact from eyeglasses was also more powerful than tutoring, the most effective educational intervention known. These are incredibly powerful findings, and we can’t wait until every child has the glasses they need to learn and succeed.
This is just the start but our sleeves are rolled up, and we’re excited to move forward together.