CDC, AOA partner on Contact Lens Health Week

CDC, AOA partner on Contact Lens Health Week

"Empowering a community with contact lens safety messages offers a unique opportunity to improve and protect public health while adding value to your practice."

A new public health observance takes a bullhorn to ODs' consistent messaging about healthy contact lens practices, and directs it toward a perennial group of at-risk wearers.

Contact Lens Health Week, Nov. 17-21, is the inaugural installment of an annual campaign to increase public awareness and encourage healthy behaviors around contact lens wear and care. The national observance is promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with organizations including AOA.

Aimed at bolstering healthy contact lens habits that reduce the risk of eye infections, Contact Lens Health Week will target older teens and young adults with the key message, 'You only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them'—and, for the social media savvy, #OnePairTakeCare.

Year-to-year the campaign will focus on other audiences, yet this age group is pertinent given that 35 percent of contact lens wearers are under 24 years old, and between 40 to 90 percent of all contact lens wearers do not properly follow care instructions, according to the CDC.

The public health campaign will address three key issues:

  1. Healthy contact lens hygiene habits

  2. Proper use, care and storage of contact lenses and supplies

  3. Regular visits to an eye care provider

"Optometry's role in U.S. public health monitoring has successfully highlighted the persistent and growing trend of inappropriate, illegal and unsafe decorative contact lens use," says Michael Dueñas, O.D., AOA Chief Public Health Officer.

"AOA member involvement has had a tripartite effect, empowering people's knowledge about specific associated vision and eye health problems, mobilizing innovative collaborations and strengthening enforcement actions."

Resources to get involved
Optometrists are a critical part of the campaign as America starts discussing contact lens health, so use these Contact Lens Health Week campaign resources to maximize coverage and reinforce clinical expertise as primary care eye doctors.

Click here to access the full CDC promotional toolkit document. Below are a few highlights, including:

Also take advantage of AOA member resources on contact lenses, such as public education materials featured during the annual public awareness campaign against illegally procured decorative lenses, and the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section website, www.contactlenssafety.org.

Healthy contact lens usage is a recurrent issue the AOA and its members continue to promote, both locally in doctors' communities and nationally. And it continues with an ongoing public service announcement campaign—a collaboration between AOA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Entertainment Industries Council—directed at youth and designed to dissuade illegal decorative contact lens use.

"Empowering a community with contact lens safety messages offers a unique opportunity to improve and protect public health while adding value to your practice," Dr. Dueñas says. "AOA members should be proud of this heritage and continue these efforts year-round."

Click here to visit the AOA, FDA and EIC campaign website, and click here to view the edgy PSAs themselves. Read the 2014 MarCom award-winning AOA Focus article, "Get Smart," about the future of contact lenses.

November 13, 2014

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