Carrying the torch: AOA campaign message reaches billions

July 21, 2021
With the competitions officially underway July 23, the AOA is capitalizing on its partnership with surfer Caroline Marks and USA Surfing to raise awareness about the essentialness of regular, comprehensive eye care and vision health. Doctors of optometry can get involved with the See and Be Seen campaign.
USA Surfer Caroline Marks

The countdown to the Tokyo is winding down and all eyes have turned to USA Surfing for the Opening Ceremony July 23—and the AOA is excited to share how it has been keeping those eyes healthy.

Over the past few months, the AOA has partnered with USA Surfing and Tokyo-bound pro-surfer Caroline Marks on its Eye Deserve More campaign, highlighting the role doctors of optometry play in the eye and overall health of all athletes. And while the buildup has been the backdrop for that message, Marks and USA Surfing have been championing the importance of in-person care from doctors of optometry for every person—from professional athletes to regular folks.

That’s the core message of Eye Deserve More: That all people deserve the kind of quality eye care that only AOA doctors of optometry provide. Provided conditions are right for the event, the surfing competition is scheduled to start July 25.

See and Be Seen puts focus on doctors and patients

A doctor of optometry orders an MRI out of an abundance of caution and the test may very well have saved Julie’s life. A boy and his family appreciate the merits of a comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry who treated him for cataracts. And an Arkansas doctor goes out of his way—literally miles­­—to ensure his patients are getting the eye care they deserve.

Sharing how doctors of optometry make a difference in their patients’ lives every day is the engine behind the new, nationwide AOA public awareness and affinity campaign See and Be Seen. This year’s theme, Eye Deserve More, emphasizes that every American deserves the comprehensive care that AOA doctors provide. And doctors of optometry are being asked to share their inspired patient stories in the campaign, reinforcing the quality of the care they deliver to patients.

Doctors of optometry provide life-affirming service every day for their patients but more public education is needed, says AOA President-elect James P. DeVleming, O.D. After 30 years caring for patients, Dr. DeVleming says, he continues to find that some patients “don't know that I can treat red eyes, remove foreign bodies from their eyes or provide many other services.”

And it’s not just patients who don’t know, he adds. It’s also some legislators, regulators, other doctors and teachers who don't know what doctors of optometry do each day in their practices.

“With this new campaign, we have the opportunity to tell the public how well-educated we are and how well they will be cared for by seeing their local doctor of optometry for all their eye and vision care needs,” Dr. DeVleming says. “See and Be Seen is our newest and latest campaign to educate the public and support our members as well as our profession by showing a big-picture view of all the great things we do.

“We need the public to hear about what hometown heroes their local doctors of optometry are, whether they are finding a brain tumor and saving someone's life during a comprehensive eye exam; to finding, diagnosing and treating glaucoma to save someone's vision through their entire lives; to finding the kid in second grade who can't sit still at his desk, let alone read or do math, because his vision is so poor. Then, once he puts on his new glasses, he is reading, keeping up with his homework and no longer taking the drug he was once prescribed. We know we change people's lives for the better every day and we can use that knowledge to further the reach and breadth of See and Be Seen.”

The campaign, which launched in April, is making an impression. As of the end of the second quarter of 2021, it had generated more than 1.67 billion impressions from media coverage and reached 4.8 million people through digital ads. That is only expected to build with the opening in Tokyo and interest in the surfing competition, which presents an opportunity for the AOA to highlight Marks’ involvement with the Eye Deserve More campaign, which spreads the message that every American deserves in-person, comprehensive care from an AOA doctor as part of their overall health and well-being.

How can doctors contribute to the campaign?

The AOA is asking members to share their patient care stories that celebrate moments of life-changing diagnoses and life-altering treatments. Find step-by-step guidance for patient recruitment.

Encouraging patients and the public to seek care and prioritize their health, personal testimonials are one of the most impactful tools available. Real-life examples combined with expert commentary from AOA-member doctors allow the conditions being highlighted to be humanized and help people understand the value of regular eye care.

Andrea Thau, O.D., past AOA president, is one of the doctors featured in the campaign (Julie is her patient), though any doctor of optometry can submit a story.

“The campaign helps elevate our profession by pointing out the myriad of ways that doctors of optometry change and sometimes save people's lives,” Dr. Thau says. “By illustrating examples, the public can better understand the vital role that doctors of optometry play as primary eye care providers in the health care and public health systems. The eyes are a window into not only eye health but also systemic health. There are over 270 systemic diseases that can be detected through a comprehensive eye examination. Because the eyes are an extension of the brain, they can detect serious neurological problems as well.

“By sharing our stories, other patients may be motivated to come in and benefit from the extraordinary care that doctors of optometry provide,” she adds. “It may save someone's life but, at a minimum, will help improve the quality of their life.”

Back-to-school campaign

The AOA also is working to ensure children’s eye health and vision care is prioritized. As part of its Eye Deserve More push, the AOA’s back-to-school campaign is continuing to promote the value of proactive eye health and build public affinity for doctors of optometry.

Launched in June and July, the campaign urges parents of school-age children to schedule their kids’ in-person, comprehensive eye examinations with an AOA family doctor of optometry, ahead of the new school year, by highlighting the thoroughness of dilated eye examinations and their essentialness to overall health and well-being. Campaign messaging and information will appear not only in social media but also in digital ads on highly trafficked websites, popular parenting websites and as part of a social influencer partnership with Instagram personalities and AOA doctors like Houston blogger, Claudia Estrada, self-care advocate, Elisha Wilson Beach and AOA member, Joseph Allen, O.D..

Additionally, the AOA also launched new ads and social posts to run across online channels that emphasize how in-person eye examinations are part of an all-around healthy lifestyle routine. Affiliates and members are encouraged to download the Back-to-School Content Calendar and share messaging on their own social media channels.

Do you have a compelling patient care story?

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