ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA) is announcing today that it is partnering with USA Surfing and Tokyo-bound pro surfer Caroline Marks to launch Eye Deserve More, a national campaign to bring awareness to the critical role doctors of optometry play in the eyecare and overall health of Americans. With the increase of online and app-based vision services, Eye Deserve More is reinforcing that there is no substitute for in-person care. “Since I was a child, I’ve gone to the optometrist annually for preventive measures because it’s the only way I truly know if my eyes are healthy,” said Marks. “Eye health is often overlooked even though it’s one of the most important factors in overall performance. Beyond just the need for good vision out on the water, my regular exposure to sun, wind and sand and attachment to my phone means my eyes are being put to the test every day.”

According to AOA’s 2020 Eye-Q Survey, 95 percent of Americans say having good vision is important to their job, but 58 percent of Americans have not gotten a comprehensive eye exam in the past two years.

Technology has an important role to play in eye health, but it should be used to complement, not replace doctor-provider care, the AOA said, adding in its announcement that in-person, comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry is the only medically recognized standard to assure precise and healthy vision care. Eye exams also safeguard overall health by enabling the doctor to detect more than 270 serious health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and cancers—something that cannot be done virtually or through a computer algorithm, per the AOA.

“We’re proud to partner with Caroline Marks and USA Surfing to elevate the conversation around the important role doctors of optometry play in our managing our health,” said William T. Reynolds, O.D., AOA president. “Eye Deserve More sets out to reinforce that everyone deserves more than an online vision screening when it comes to your health. Every day, optometrists examine asymptomatic patients who come in for an appointment, only to then diagnose them with serious eye and other health issues.”

“At USA Surfing, our health and well-being are of utmost importance for our athletes to compete at their greatest potential–and part of this is maintaining eye health,” said Greg Cruse, CEO, USA Surfing. “Anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun is at a higher risk for a condition called pterygium, or surfer’s eye, which results in an extra layer of tissue growing on your eyeball. While we all love being in out in the sun as much as possible, there are implications for our eye health so we want to ensure our athletes are getting seen by an optometrist.”

People are encouraged to visit to learn more about eye health and real-life stories like Caroline’s and find an AOA doctor of optometry.

Marks is the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the women’s Championship Tour. In 2018, at 15 years old and in her first year on the Championship Tour, she won the Rookie of The Year award and finished the year ranked seventh in the world. In her second year, the ascent continued and she finished second in the world, which meant she provisionally qualified to surf for Team USA at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.