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Coalition Formed to Educate the Public on Myopia

More than 20 industry leaders recently met and agreed to form the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC), whose mission is to collectively, “promote public awareness of childhood myopia as an important and treatable condition through direct-to-consumer channels and health promotion efforts with governments, NGOs, the eye care community and other health care associations.”

Kovin Naidoo, O.D., Ph.D., senior vice president of inclusive business, philanthropy and social impact at Essilor, proposed the mission and a governance structure for the GMAC, which was endorsed by the group. The group agreed on the importance of coordinating communication efforts globally with other eye care associations, including optometry and ophthalmology, so that synergies from speaking with “one voice” can be realized.

The coalition, which met at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in San Antonio, agreed that communication efforts to the public would focus on health promotion and education, according to a GMAC press release. The coalition will not focus on clinical work, such as that done by the International Myopia Institute (IMI). The group agreed all communication efforts to the public would be focused on health promotion and education, not advocacy for a particular type of myopia management.

Meeting participants agreed they will appoint a board and provide funding to develop and deploy public-facing messaging. The World Council of Optometry (WCO) will serve as a host to support GMAC efforts.

“After 25 long years dedicated to research and development in the field of myopia management, as well as in the clinical care of my patients with myopia, I think that the stars are finally aligning and that through the efforts of GMAC and the IMI and many dedicated researchers around the world, 2019 will be the year that myopia management will become the standard of care.” says Thomas Aller, O.D. who attended the meeting.

During the meeting, Matt Oerding, CEO and co-founder of Treehouse Eyes, a myopia management group, led a session on how public messaging in a coordinated fashion has been effective in other categories. Notable examples include “Brush your teeth twice a day,” “Got milk” and the global efforts to raise awareness of human papillary virus.

Meeting participants discussed the importance of using a consistent vocabulary when talking about myopia to the public and also the need to continue to educate both health professionals and the public.

During the meeting, documentary filmmaker Jane Weiner discussed her film, “Losing Sight: Inside the Myopia Epidemic.” Ms. Weiner has seen, firsthand, the critical work supporting myopia treatment and hopes her film will help educate the public. She shared the film’s video sample and the status of her fundraising and production (visit http://insidemyopiaepidemic.com ).

MEETING CONCLUSIONS

The meeting concluded with commitments made from several companies to contribute financially to the GMAC and to form the board to start execution work. The group will work initially on message development, testing and then a pilot public media campaign that can be measured, so that the campaign can be refined before roll out. The GMAC Board will finalize the execution plan, including identifying the advertising agencies to be involved, countries in scope for the pilot phase and the choice of media for execution.

Health promotion efforts and outreach to governments, NGOs and other organizations will also be in scope for GMAC.

Companies and organizations represented at the meeting: Scott Mundle, O.D., of WHO; Weiwen Chen, Kovin Naidoo, O.D., Ph.D., and Jean-Marc Leroy of Essilor; Greg Chavez, The Vision Council; filmmaker Jane Weiner; Michael Ross, M.D., Euclid Systems Corporation; Grady Linsky, Hoya; Bill Reindel, O.D., Bausch+Lomb; Juan Carlos Aragon, O.D., and Stuart Cockerill, CooperVision; Tony Sommer, Visioneering Technologies; Dwight Akerman, O.D., M.B.A., Alcon; Judith Williams, Vision Impact Institute; Raul Trillo, M.D., M.B.A., Nevakar; Keiji Sugimoto, Menicon; Arne Ohlendorf, Zeiss; Thomas Aller, O.D., and Matt Oerding, Treehouse Eyes.

For more information about GMAC, contact Mr. Oerding at Matt.Oerding@TreehouseEyes.com. ■