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    Eye health awareness campaign aims to open public's eyes


    Herm Cukier“We work day in and day out . . . in the eye health community,” said Herm Cukier, senior vice president and head of Allergan’s U.S. Eye Care Division. “We were quite struck and startled by the sheer statistics that were highlighted in that report.”  

    The hope is the campaign will create a viral conversation about eye health that ultimately leads people to seek out regular eye exams. The company will partner with influencers in music, art, fashion, and sports to stimulate the awareness of the need for people to take initiative, he said. 

    “This is a health category that is not really well understood, not really well appreciated, not spoken of, and we want to create that conversation,” Cukier said.

    “Despite all the efforts that exist and all the great work that’s done, clearly there is a need to not only [to] invest more and amplify that voice, but [also] to create a different kind of approach and a different kind of dialogue," he said. "Losing sight is not a de facto, predetermined outcome. It’s not part of natural aging, and it’s something that we have the means, the capabilities, and the technologies to stop occurring.”

    More: Top 10 U.S. eye-healthy cities

    The campaign will have physical events starting this spring to connect the public with access to comprehensive eye exams. Expected locations for the four initial events are Columbus, OH, Houston, Raleigh, NC, and Atlanta.

    “What gets me the most excited about this campaign beyond the dissemination of information . . . is getting down there and actually taking part in some of the efforts to do the screenings,” Dr. Yeu said.

    Editorial: Ophthalmology and death by poison

    Allergan has committed to the eye-care space for more than 70 years and was originally started as an eye-care company. Its eye-care division continues to the the largest division in the organization and the area in which most scientific and clinical development investments are made within the company, according to Cukier. The company is partnering with the volunteer eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness in its campaign efforts.

    “It’s an area that we’re committed to for the long term,” he said. “We’re hoping that many others join us­–not only manufacturers and eye-care professionals, but also policy and advocacy organizations all have to come together.”

    Dr. Yeu also has high hopes for the campaign’s potential to spark the public conversation.

    Related: 10 least eye-healthy cities in the United States

    “As an idealist and a clinician myself, I would love to see that there are greater number who are seeking out primary eye care, and then the percentage of those we are seeing with more advances and severe stages where the damage has already occurred becomes a smaller percentage of [our patients],” Dr. Yeu said.

    “At the end of the day, this is a health epidemic in the United States that deserves more awareness, more attention, more engagement, more action, more voices, and more creative innovation,” Cukier said. “See America is one of many initiatives that are required around the country.”

    To learn more about the campaign, or to get involved, visit https://www.seeamerica.vision.

    More: 16 most popular stories of 2016

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    Jolie Higazi
    Jolie is the Content Specialist for Ophthalmology Times. She can be reached at [email protected]

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