Ophthalmic companies focusing on World Sight Day 2020

October 8, 2020

Through donations and activism, industry leaders are educating the public on the importance of eye health as a survey finds many people understand importance of exams, but don’t always seek treatment.

To mark World Sight Day, Alcon is focusing on its corporate giving and company-led initiatives focused on improving access to quality eye care.

The theme of World Sight Day 2020 is “Hope in Sight.” In the spirit of that idea, Alcon associates will help spark donations to global nonprofit organizations that advance eye health.

With that focus, the plan is to support people around the world in need of eye care, particularly as eye health issues, including vision loss, myopia, cataracts, refractive errors and more, have emerged or worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a release, Alcon CEO David J. Endicott noted that the Alcon team has seen firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic has made access to quality eye care even more challenging for communities around the world.

“Now more than ever, Alcon is proud to partner with nonprofit eye health organizations who are working toward a common goal of improving access to eye care, including offering free eye surgeries and eye care resources to patients, as well as providing training and education to eye care providers across the world,” he said in the release. “Through these impactful initiatives, we can help improve people’s vision and inspire hope in sight.”

World Sight Day is coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to bring attention to the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

In its statement, Alcon noted it has a history of donating surgical equipment and medical supplies to NGOs and hospitals providing care to underserved patients.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many necessary eye surgeries and treatments were delayed, causing a backlog of surgeries and leaving people’s vision at risk for worsened conditions. Cornerstone Assistance Network’s Cataract Clinic— the nation's first free cataract facility for the uninsured, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area—saw an uptick in patient requests for cataract surgeries since the pandemic began,” the company said in a release. “This World Sight Day, Alcon continues to lend support to Cornerstone Cataract Clinic by supporting surgical services for uninsured patients.”

Alcon associates also are participating in the Steps for Sight Challenge, global company initiative that challenges 2,020 associates to take 10,000 steps on World Sight Day to raise a total of $25,000 for three global eye health nonprofit organizations—long-time partner OrbisOptometry Giving Sight and one surprise recipient to be chosen by an Alcon site.

The company announced in the release it has created a public service announcement (PSA) to remind people of the importance of eye health and encourage scheduling eye exams. During this year’s AAO Academy 2020 meeting, delegates will be encouraged to view the video and share it on their social media channels, with a call-to-action to generate more than 2,020 views to trigger a $25,000 donation to the American Academy of Optometry Foundation.

The video can be viewed on the Alcon Corporate YouTube channel.

Another company has released a survey on eye health that offers some interesting findings.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson Vision announced findings from a comprehensive, large-scale global eye health survey in advance of World Sight Day. The global survey sheds light on people’s views around the importance of eye health as well as the barriers to care.

The company said in the statement the survey reveals both a disconnect in patient views towards the importance of eye health and how they prioritize it as part of their overall health, as well as unique barriers to care and varying attitudes towards eye health specific to different regions, generations, and genders.

According to the release, most adults surveyed (80%) said they view an eye exam as important for their overall health and recognized that healthy vision improves overall quality of life (68%) and keeps them safe (61%).

The release noted that despite the seeming awareness, fewer than half (46%) of respondents said they actually get an eye exam each year.

According to the release, the most common reason for skipping an eye exam is their vision hadn’t changed (32%), which opens the door for educating individuals on exactly how an annual eye exam can preserve and protect vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of health, but has had an adverse affect on people’s willingness to seek out treatment, including ophthalmic care.

According to the release, 16% of respondents said they were reluctant or unable to schedule an eye exam due to the pandemic.

Cost also has proven to be a barrier for some groups, according to the release. Younger generations, including 24% of Gen Z and Millennials globally said they can no longer afford to see an eye doctor.

In a statement, Shlomi Nachman, company group chairman, CSS and Johnson & Johnson Vision, said the company is committed to changing the trajectory of eye health, which starts by addressing the biggest barriers to care—awareness and access.

“This survey has uncovered new insights and opportunities around how we, as an eye health community, can help people to prioritize their eyes by getting an annual eye exam,” Nachman said.

Moreover, fewer than half of people surveyed believed they could prevent their eyesight from deteriorating (47%) or responded that vision loss is a part of aging and they have no control over it (46%).

The survey also found that respondents did not recognize the potential benefits and impact of having healthy vision, including that it can impact learning and comprehension (39%) or is critical for healthy development in children (25%).

Respondents reported that they knew an exam could help diagnose early signs of chronic diseases, few were aware it could help detect diabetes (only 25% knew), cardiovascular disease (10%), or cancer (9%)