Global Myopia Awareness Coalition Board Explores Messaging Approach to Parents and ODs About Myopia

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At the recent GMAC board meeting, seated, from left are Garryn Marlyn, WCO, Kovin Naidoo, OD, Essilor, Matt Oerding, Treehouse Eyes, Michael Ross, MD, Euclid Systems Corp., Bill Scott, Jobson. Standing, from left are Paul Folkesson, incoming WCO president, Scott Mundle, OD, WCO president, Millicent Knight, OD, Essilor, Juan Carlos Aragon, OD, CooperVision, Marc Ferrara, Jobson and Layna Mendlinger, Visioneering Technologies, Inc.

ORLANDO, Fla.—The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) reported progress at the group's board meeting held at the 3rd World Council of Optometry here last week. GMAC, formed in early 2019 to focus on public education about childhood myopia, recently conducted messaging research with over 4,000 parents across the U.S. in order to better understand how to speak to parents about this critical topic. Matt Oerding, co-founder and CEO, Treehouse Eyes and GMAC board chair said, "GMAC remains focused on our mission of creating public awareness of childhood myopia, and I'm excited to have more companies joining our coalition as we head into 2020."

Oerding noted, "This is the most comprehensive research on messaging about childhood myopia done to date in the U.S. Several insights came out of the research which can help optometrists discuss childhood myopia with parents in a way that is easy to understand and take action for their child. Among these:
Parents will do just about anything to help their child succeed, but don't currently understand that poor vision may impact their child's performance now, and that myopia can increase their risks of eye diseases later in life.

"Most parents (77 percent) report taking their child for a comprehensive eye exam annually, unfortunately almost half (49 percent) believe that a pediatrician performs comprehensive eye exams. This misunderstanding is a key driver for why parents don't take their children in more regularly to the eye doctor.

"Messages focused on performance (school, activities) and communicating that children might have vision problems, but could not know it, were the most motivating to get parents to take action. In addition, messages focused about myopia specifically, and their child's potential risk, were more motivating than generic messages focused on getting an eye exam."

Armed with these insights, GMAC's agency partner, Golin, shared creative ideas on how to deliver this message in a breakthrough way for the first GMAC-sponsored messaging campaign, set to launch later this year in the U.S. This campaign is designed to educate parents about childhood myopia and get them to take action by taking their child to an eye doctor and asking about myopia treatment options. Oerding related that GMAC will be forming a professional advisory committee to assist in ongoing messaging campaigns as well as to help form GMAC's strategy in communicating to health care professionals across a variety of medical specialties.

Added Marc Ferrara, GMAC board member and CEO of Jobson Medical Information, "We all know that myopia is a growing global problem, the challenge is lack of public awareness to take action. GMAC is the first organization to focus on this public education issue, and the companies participating in GMAC are showing great leadership by working together on this critical problem. After seeing some of the initial ideas for our first GMAC-sponsored campaign, I'm excited about the breakthrough thinking and creativity we saw and can't wait to get this campaign launched."

GMAC has held several meetings to discuss its goals, share information and collaborate on programs to raise awareness about myopia, as VMAIL has reported. GMAC is organized under the World Council of Optometry (WCO), and includes the following member companies which are leaders in the eyecare industry: Alcon, CooperVision Inc., Essilor, Euclid, Hoya, Jobson’s Review of Myopia Management, Menicon, Nevakar, Oculus, SightGlass Vision, Sydnexis, SynergEyes and Visioneering Technologies, Inc. Jobson Medical Information joined the coalition last August.