Jeff Todd talks about the campaign and partnering with actress Debbie Allen to help gain awareness on eye health.
Editor's note - Transcript edited for clarity
I am David Hutton, of Ophthalmology times. Joining me is Jeff Todd, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness, to discuss its Gr8 Eye Movement campaign with Regeneron. Thank you so much for joining us today. Tell us about this campaign and its goals.
Thanks, David. Yeah, we're we're trying to address the lack of understanding of retinal disease among those most at risk for it. So the Gr8 Eye Movement, using, the number 8 to create a moment in time for people to prioritize their eye health by designating the eighth of every month as a good day to check in on your vision. You know, an 8 on its side looks like eyes. And so it's a quick way to remind us to focus in on our eyes. The ultimate goal of this campaign is really to raise awareness about retinal diseases, and educate those who are at risk so they can understand the importance of checking their eyes on a regular basis.
How did Prevent Blindness come to work with Regeneron on this project?
Prevent Blindness has been around for 115 years, as you may know, focusing on promoting a continuum of vision care. Regeneron, for more than 20 years, has had a commitment to ophthalmology and retinal conditions and the patient community. So it's a natural fit. They've supported some of our eye health efforts in the past. And so it made sense to collaborate on this one as well.
And this time around, you've got some star power in this effort with Debbie Allen participating. What does it mean to have a little bit of star power behind this effort?
Yeah, I think, you know, having some star power can really help stim and escalate the message to folks who may be fans of hers. But certainly, I think for this particular campaign, for people who really relate with her and her life story. Having admired Debbie Allen as an icon, really, with a diversity of artistic talents for years. It's inspiring to have her voice behind the campaign. We knew the population that we wanted to reach included those at greatest risk of developing retinal conditions, people 60 years of age and older, communities of color, and those who are living with or at risk of developing diabetes. So upon learning that Ms. Allen has had family members who are blinded by diabetic eye disease, and she herself has pre-diabetes. So as a member of our target population, we knew she would be perfect to encourage others to prioritize their own eye health.
What can this campaign mean for retina specialists and the patients they treat?
So for retina specialists specifically, you know, obviously, by the time they see a patient, they're dealing with someone who's likely been diagnosed with the condition or may be diagnosed. But having the patient have an increased familiarity with the conditions that they're dealing with certainly is going to help the specialists themselves in educating the patients that they're dealing with.
And how can ophthalmologists participate in this campaign?
Well, while the campaign is primarily aimed at those most at risk for these conditions, certainly physicians, ophthalmologists, and others can play a significant role in increasing awareness among their patients, simply by talking to them about their risks and the importance of routine eye care. We know that, that ophthalmologists and physicians in general don't have a lot of time with their patients, but they certainly can direct them to resources such as the Gr8 Eye Movement website.
Ultimately, how will you measure success of this campaign?
Well, we're hoping to see a shift in consumer awareness about the impact of retinal disease, and hoping that shift motivates action. More familiarity with the diseases people are at risk of developing and understanding of the risk factors and symptoms. We hope will help them take action again. And in the short term, we're certainly looking at consumer engagement with the campaign and its assets.
Prevent Blindness recently conducted a survey of at-risk adults. Can you tell us a little bit about how this came to be and some of the highlights of the survey?
Absolutely. We surveyed adults at risk for these retinal conditions, and found that an overwhelming 95% of them lacked the knowledge about these retinal diseases, I was shocked at that number. I assumed it would be high but didn't expect it to be that high. So this indicates they're not likely taking the necessary steps to take care of their vision. We also found that most at risk adults, about two thirds, 67%, believe that vision loss is a normal part of aging, even as 70% of them have experienced symptoms of retinal disease. And important for this campaign, specifically, we found that once equipped with the knowledge and the risk factors, the majority, just under 80%, will take steps to address changes in their vision.