DALLAS—Essilor of America and 14-year-old actress Marsai Martin, best known for her role on the award-winning TV comedy show "Black-ish," are raising awareness about the urgent need for children across the nation to receive total vision care this back to school season. Their campaign will emphasize the importance of high-quality, comprehensive eye exams from eyecare professionals who offer advanced lens technology that keeps pace with the changing needs of children’s eye health. Amid growing concern about myopia and children's health, Essilor and Martin will be encouraging parents to sign the Essilor 20/20 Vision Pledge to prioritize high quality vision solutions for their children and the opportunity to win eyeglasses for their entire school.  

Dr. Millicent Knight, senior vice president of Essilor's customer development group, pointed out,  “We are facing unprecedented rates of myopia. Today, children’s eyes are exposed to harmful blue light, ultraviolet light (UV) and digital eye strain like never before. Yet nearly half of parents with children under age six have never taken their child to the eye doctor, even though it’s recommended they have three doctor visits by that age." Knight continued, “Parents also need to know that where you go matters as much as when you go. There is a big difference in a child’s vision outcome when choosing professionals who prioritize the most advanced and best lens technologies for their patients’ individual needs.”

The Essilor 20/20 Vision Pledge , the new campaign introduced by Essilor of America and Martin, encourages parents to take immediate action to prioritize their children’s best vision, a critical element for education success, this back-to-school season. Martin, who plays Diane Johnson on the ABC Emmy-nominated hit comedy “Black-ish,” struggled in school until her vision issues were successfully diagnosed and treated by an eyecare professional who offered her the right solution for her needs. Her story is relevant to many students, as studies show nearly half (49 percent ) of children with myopia have difficulty in the classroom, and 41 percent of parents with myopic children said their children struggle with everyday activities.

“I know what it’s like to sit in a classroom where everything looks blurry. No child should have to go through that experience,” Martin said. “Through this Pledge and partnership, I hope every child in America gets the opportunity to see the world clearly, and to be at their best in the classroom and in life.” A video from Martin about her experience helps kick off the campaign via YouTube and excerpts will also be shared via social media.

Parents who sign the Pledge commit to prioritizing their child’s eye health by seeking the best, comprehensive care and lens solutions for their children. In signing the Pledge, parents are eligible to win an comprehensive exam and pair of eyeglasses for their child—and eyeglasses their entire school (K-12), courtesy of the Essilor Vision Foundation.  

“Parents will invest billions this year to prepare their children for school, but without the ability to see their best, children will be at a disadvantage in the classroom," noted Sherianne James, chief marketing officer of Essilor of America. She told VMAIL, "We see many ways that ECPs can talk to patients about the choices they can make to address their children's vision correction needs—and also help out others, too." 

She noted, "Marsai’s story underscores the need for vision to be at the top of the list, as well as the difference that can be made in the life of a child when they’re paired with the right eye doctor who offers the right lens solutions. Essilor answers the call with our network of Essilor Experts, which is comprised of independent eye doctors who have access to advanced lens technologies and who are dedicated to taking a personalized approach to eyecare. The Essilor 20/20 Vision Pledge is a compelling way to empower parents to make the right choice as Essilor drives toward a 2020 goal of better vision health for all.” James noted that two of Essilor's newest products, EyeZen and Transitions Gen 8, are two such products that can help address these issues for young single-vision wearers.

The sweepstakes will run through Sept. 25 and the winner and the winning school is anticipated to be announced prior to World Sight Day on Oct. 10. Further, Essilor intends to work with Marsai Martin and its partner Essilor Vision Foundation about the messages about comprehensive vision care for children throughout 2020. "The Essilor Vision Foundation is  a critical pillar of Essior's mission of improving lives by improving sight. This initiative let's people know that's something we do. It's part of the Vision Foundation's mission to make sure all children have access to vision care and we think it will inspire parents and adults to sign the pledge to help not only children they know but others find access to the vision care that will let them better succeed in school as well." 

James emphazied, "We're so excited to be partnering with Marsai. She is truly an avid eyeglass wearer, she embraces her glasses, which makes her advocacy even more authentic to the goals of our campaign." Martin is a rising star.

At the age of five she landed her first national commercial and shortly after relocating to Los Angeles, she was cast as Diane Johnson on “Black-ish.” Alongside an all-star cast, the young starlet is very popular with viewers who tune in every week to see her hilarious and witty antics on the show. Her work on the show has earned her 10 NAACP Image Awards as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award.

At the age of 10 she conceptualized and pitched a movie idea to Will Packer and Universal which became the feature film, "Little." As the star and executive producer on the film, she has become a part of Hollywood history as the youngest person to EP a major Hollywood film. She is also excited about uplifting diverse and young voices through her production company, Genius Productions, who signed an overall deal with Universal. In addition to acting, she loves producing, singing, dancing and creating her own content for social media.

To enter the Essilor 20/20 Vision Pledge and for official rules, parents and ECPs can visit: 2020visionpledge.com