Essilor of America Forms Taskforce to Combat Growing Myopia Epidemic in U.S.

Essilor of America introduced its new Myopia Taskforce at the Essilor National Sales Meeting.

PHOENIX—Amid growing concerns among vision care organizations and eye health professionals about the rapid rise of myopia in the U.S., Essilor of America has assembled a team of prominent optometrists known as the Myopia Taskforce to lead the fight against the potentially sight threatening condition. "The rate at which the prevalence of myopia is increasing is staggering," said Millicent Knight, OD, FAAO, FAARM, senior vice president of customer development at Essilor of America. "True to our mission of improving lives by improving sight, we are bringing together some of the industry's top eyecare professionals with diverse areas of myopia interest and expertise to address this problem together through new research and open collaboration."

Essilor introduced the group yesterday at its National Sales Meeting here. It consists of 14 highly-regarded vision experts who have pledged their commitment to establishing a preferred method for comprehensive myopia care, including developing a universally accepted care protocol for managing myopia.

"Myopia is more than simply a refractive error and it is increasing at an alarming rate," said Taskforce member John Lahr, OD, FAAO. "While refractive error remains the primary reason that most individuals seek eye examinations, we must view and treat myopia with a more comprehensive approach going forward."

In addition to Dr. Lahr, the other Taskforce members are Dr. Thomas Aller, Dr. David Anderson, Dr. Craign Brawley, Dr. Mark Bullimore, Dr. Alan Glazier, Dr. Maria Liu, Dr. Pamela Lowe, Dr. Moshe Mendelson, Dr. Pamela Miller, Dr. Yi Pang, Dr. Earl Smith, Dr. Long Tran and Dr. David Troilo. Most were on hand to meet members of the optical press yesterday at the Essilor meeting.

The formation of the Myopia Taskforce is part of Essilor's Myopia Initiative in Action (MIA), a broad program which Essilor executives said will be available to the optical industry later this year. It follows an awareness campaign launched by Essilor in 2018 which focused on myopia, particularly among children, and educated parents about early indications of nearsightedness and urged them to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for their children. The campaign included the release of "Out of Focus,' an animated theaterical trailer depicting the experiences of a young girl struggling with myopia. The film ran in movie theaters nationwide during the fall 2018 box office season.

"Out of Focus was a huge success for us last year, but it was just the beginning of our work to reverse the myopia trend," said Sherianne James, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Essilor of America. "We have much hard work ahead of us, but with the right partners at the table, we are confident we can make a big impact in 2019."