The American Optometric Association (AOA), the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 30,000 doctors of optometry, announces the official launch of the #2020EyeExam campaign to make eye health and vision care a national priority in 2020. The public awareness campaign underscores the importance of receiving an in-person comprehensive eye examination with an AOA doctor of optometry as part of their annual health care routine.
“AOA’s mission is to ensure people understand the importance of annual eye exams. It’s the simplest step in preserving not only vision but overall health,” says Barbara L. Horn, O.D., AOA president. “2020 represents a historic moment and we’re excited to partner with our affiliates, member doctors of optometry and paraoptometrics all over the country to make the comprehensive eye exam a priority for the public.”
Eye health and vision problems may develop without any obvious signs or symptoms. In- person, annual eye exams with doctors of optometry can detect early signs of visual system diseases such as glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness. In addition, eye exams safeguard overall health by enabling the doctor of optometry to detect more than 270 serious health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and cancers.
As with many systemic diseases, most eye diseases, if detected early, may be treated before detrimental effects on the health and vision can take place. If a problem is detected, doctors of optometry help patients and their families navigate to the right prevention plans or the next steps in official diagnosis and treatment. In 2018, for instance, doctors of optometry identified signs of diabetes in more than 301,000 patients who did not know they had it, leading to earlier management of the disease.
Research shows up to 16 million Americans struggle with undiagnosed or untreated vision impairments, and eye diseases, vision loss, and eye disorders create an estimated $139 billion economic burden. To address this significant public health issue, AOA’s #2020EyeExam is increasing awareness about the essential role doctors of optometry play in maintaining America’s health and wellness.
The public health campaign will come to life through a series of initiatives via digital, social and traditional media, engaging and activating a range of audiences, including patients, the greater public, elected officials and other health care providers. The campaign’s message is simple but powerful: Make 2020 the year you get an in-person, comprehensive eye examination with an AOA family doctor of optometry.
Through the #2020EyeExam Employer Pledge program, AOA is spreading the message even further by enlisting visionary employers nationwide to pledge their support for raising employee awareness about the importance of a comprehensive eye exam. To date, more than three dozen companies and organizations have signed on, reaching more than 300,000 employees and their families.
“A healthier America starts with the eyes and we hope other organizations will join the #2020EyeExam campaign to address the current eye health and vision challenges facing our nation today,” Dr. Horn states. “Together we will set a clear path for America’s eye health and vision by recognizing the importance of getting an annual, comprehensive eye exam with an AOA doctor of optometry.”