When optometry talks, people listen.
True, optometry may be small relative to other medical professions, but our voice isn't one to be drowned out. Our messages ring loud and clear—and true—because we, as the nation's primary eye care providers, concern ourselves with what all people hold dear—their vision.
When we talk about diabetes and hypertension, and the risk of blindness, people listen. When we warn of the dangers from improper contact lens wear, people listen. And, when we stress at every possible opportunity the importance of regular, in-person, comprehensive eye care, people listen.
People listen because our messages are getting through. That's how AOA's 24/7/365 "always on" media advocacy works for the profession. The AOA is putting optometry's priority messages front and center, where it matters most. Wherever—and whenever—people choose to engage, we're there.
Consider the AOA's partnership with Think About Your Eyes, a nationwide awareness campaign that puts our message about regular, comprehensive eye care in front of millions of eyes. That, in turn, translated into 3.95 million eye exams and $205 million in exam revenue in 2018 alone.
Consider the AOA's input on important policy and regulatory discussions. Throughout the Federal Trade Commission's regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule, optometry's concerns for the health and safety of our patients' eyes are the counterbalance to online sellers' attempts to dominate the conversation. The same can be said of our efforts to underscore the doctor-patient relationship when vision apps try to tout convenience over quality care, or others try to downplay the access optometry provides.
Consider AOA's work to position doctors of optometry as the go-to experts in all things eye and vision care. From working alongside social media influencers who post about children's eye care on their parenting blogs to working directly with news reporters requesting clinical insight on topics big and small. Topics such as "what can go wrong with eyelash extensions?"
Strange as it was, this unique opportunity to stress the importance of personalized primary eye health and vision care became the top health story of 2018 on a little news site called BuzzFeed. Right there, in black and white, was the reason our media advocacy is working: "Don't hesitate to go see an optometrist."
In June, the AOA House of Delegates approved changes to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education that increased the number of members on its board from 11 to 13. The council also announced the passing of the baton to new leadership.
AOA partners with actor, producer, singer and gamer, Jordan Fisher to bring awareness to healthy screen time practices and encourage patients to be seen in person by an AOA doctor of optometry for quality eye care.