Horror show: PSA highlights unsafe decorative lens risks

Optometry has teamed up with Hollywood on an edgy, new public service announcement (PSA) campaign to grab the attention of youths about unsafe decorative contact lens practices.

"We're hoping to get people's attention."

As part of a triumvirate that aligns the AOA with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), the first-of-its-kind campaign elicits the "horrors" of ocular damage with messages from the FDA and makeup effects artists. 

The first PSA premiered at the 18th Annual PRISM Awards in Los Angeles on April 22, featuring contact lens artist Cristina Patterson, and Helene Clayton-Jeter, O.D., from the FDA Office of Health and Constituent Affairs. The 30-second clip urges purchase of decorative lenses only through a licensed eye care professional and stresses the risks of improper wear.  

A complementary website, www.contactlensART.org, was established to help reference viewers to additional information about proper contact lens usage.  

Attention grabber
A longer, 3-minute version of the PSA will be previewed at the 2014 Optometry's Meeting® in Philadelphia, June 25-29. This extended version builds upon the foundation set in the shorter clip, but provokes a more dramatic tone, says Michael Dueñas, O.D., AOA's chief public health officer.  

"The longer video will be a little more edgy, and we intend to make audiences react," he says. "We're working with the FDA and EIC to try to make it as impactful as we can, but somewhat tasteful to a general audience. There's a fine line there, and we'll be on the edgy side of that line."  

"We're hoping to get people's attention," Dr. Dueñas says.  

The dramatic tone is designed not only to underscore the importance of ocular health, but also to generate buzz with youth; the PSAs will circulate in social media.

Collaborative success
The campaign is an important chance for the AOA to promote ocular health issues like never before, and it's an opportunity that couldn't have happened without collaborative insight.  

The AOA and FDA have partnered in the past, but this project represented a first with the EIC, a nonprofit that provides awareness of health and social issues by encouraging accurate depiction of such issues in film and TV.  

Dr. Clayton-Jeter, an AOA member, was awarded the AOA Leadership in Public Health Award in November 2013 for her work in helping coordinate these entities to bring the project to fruition.  

"To be able to bring all these people together to come up with a project from A to Z, and now be able to develop a product, is a feat within itself," Dr. Clayton-Jeter says. Read more about her work in the June edition of AOA Focus.

The PSAs are also produced and distributed in part because of sole support from the TearLab Corporation.  

Given the unique position the entertainment industry has in reaching young adults, EIC Executive Vice President Marie Gallo Dyak says this is a chance to make a positive impact.  

"We are collaborating not only with eye care professionals, but also with the makeup artists who create the on-screen images with professional actors. This elevates the conversation around eye care when using decorative lenses on and off the screen," Dyak states.   

June 4, 2014

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