New Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) Approves Governance and Funding to Move Ahead

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Matt Oerding, CEO and co-founder of Treehouse Eyes (l) with Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, senior vice president of inclusive business, philanthropy and social impact at Essilor.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—The new Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) is moving forward in its effort to lead a collaborative effort to educate the public on the growing myopia epidemic, according to members of the coalition. Building on the success of the group’s initial meeting in June, as VMAIL previously reported, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition met at the recent American Academy of Optometry (AAO) annual meeting earlier this month here and approved a governance structure and funding mechanism to formally launch their efforts.

Over 20 industry leaders attended this meeting, described as a watershed event to align and focus their efforts collectively on public education about myopia. Given the agreement at this meeting, industry leaders in myopia will formally create the coalition, appoint a board and provide funding to develop and deploy public facing messaging. The World Council of Optometry (WCO) will serve as a host for the GMAC to support its global efforts.

Matt Oerding, CEO and co-founder of Treehouse Eyes, led a session sharing how public messaging in a coordinated fashion has been effective in other categories. Examples shared included the dental industry focus on “Brush your teeth twice a day,” the “Got Milk” campaign developed by the California Milk Processing Board, and the global efforts to raise awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the campaign to vaccinate to protect against cervical cancer. The group discussed the importance of coming up with a consistent vocabulary when talking about myopia to the public, and also the critical role of continuing to educate health care professionals in addition to the public about this issue. 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.

Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, senior vice president of inclusive business, philanthropy and social impact at Essilor, proposed a governance structure and mission for the GMAC, which was endorsed by the group. The mission of GMAC will be to “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 eyecare community and other health care associations.”


(L to R) Documentary filmmaker, Jane Weiner; Jean-Marc Leroy of Essilor and Dr. Michael Ross, MD from Euclid Systems Corporation.

The group also aligned that it will be critical to coordinate communication efforts globally with other eyecare associations, including optometry and ophthalmology, so that synergies from speaking with “one voice” can be realized in all public communications. The coalition leaders also agreed that the GMAC will not focus on clinical work, leaving that to other organizations such as the International Myopia Institute, which shared the first round of output from their efforts at the AAO.

Documentary filmmaker Jane Weiner gave the group an update on the progress of her important film, “Losing Sight: Inside the Myopia Epidemic.” Weiner has seen firsthand the critical work supporting myopia treatment and her film will help educate the public globally on this important issue. She shared a trailer from the film and the status of her fundraising and production, with a goal to start filming in 2019. Those interested in learning more can visit the film’s website at http://insidemyopiaepidemic.com, where more information is provided, including ways to support the film development and launch.

The meeting concluded successfully with commitments made from several companies to contribute financially to the GMAC and to form the board to start execution work. The group will focus its work initially on message development, testing and then a pilot media campaign to the public that can be measured so that the campaign can be refined as needed before it is rolled out more broadly.

The GMAC board will finalize the execution plan, including identifying the advertising agencies to be involved in the campaign, 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 be in scope for GMAC as well as part of phase two.


Stuart Cockerill of CooperVision (l) and Scott Mundle, OD from World Council of Optometry.
Stuart Cockerill of CooperVision stated, “GMAC is a critical initiative that will help drive public awareness of myopia and the sight threatening complications associated with progressive myopia. It was an impressive meeting bringing together so many industry leaders to work together in the Coalition. I am excited about the decisions made here and the energy to add public education to the work already being done to educate eyecare professionals about this important issue.”

Tony Sommer of Visioneering Technologies, Inc. added, “Educating the public on myopia is a massive and critical task, and it was a great start today to agree to fund this work and get stakeholders to collaborate in a positive way. The public needs to hear this message and take action.”

Thomas Aller, OD commented, “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, the IMI and many dedicated researchers around the world, 2019 will be the year that myopia management will become the standard of care.”

Companies and organizations that are leaders in myopia and eyecare were well represented at the meeting. Attendees included: Scott Mundle, OD from the World Council of Optometry; Weiwen Chen, Kovin Naidoo, OD, PhD, and Jean-Marc Leroy from Essilor; Greg Chavez from The Vision Council; filmmaker Jane Weiner; Michael Ross, MD from Euclid Systems Corporation; Grady Linsky from Hoya; Bill Reindel, OD, from Bausch + Lomb; Juan Carlos Aragon, OD, and Stuart Cockerill from CooperVision/Paragon; Tony Sommer from Visioneering Technologies; Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, from Alcon; Judith Williams from the Vision Impact Institute; Raul Trillo, MD, MBA from Nevakar; Keiji Sugimoto from Menicon; Arne Ohlendorf from Zeiss; Thomas Aller, OD; and Matt Oerding from Treehouse Eyes.

The Coalition’s new website is being readied; if anyone is seeking further information on the group, they are encouraged to contact Matt.Oerding@TreehouseEyes.com.