Allergan campaign focuses on preventable blindness

Allergan is taking on preventable blindness with a new awareness campaign called See America.

See America was inspired by a report released last September by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) that issued a call to action to end preventable blindness by 2030. According to the report, there are 60 million people at risk for preventable vision loss, half of whom are not receiving eye care.

"We heard the call to action from the NASEM report, which really stressed that leaders in the community need to amplify their efforts in helping all Americans recognize that this is a health epidemic that is unspoken and one where there's a lack of sufficient awareness," said Herm Cukier, SVP of eye care at Allergan.

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Allergan's campaign will have three goals, Cukier said: to raise awareness, increase access to eye care, and advance the technology for treating eye problems.

To raise awareness, the pharma company is running a social and influencer campaign. Allergan is working with influencers in various areas, including art, fashion, sports, and music, to reach people across the country.

"As people see the See America campaign they recognize that vision loss and blindness are not abstract occurrences that happen to someone else or just to the very elderly or is something that is just a normal part of the aging process," Cukier said. "Our hope is that people really recognize that the numbers are daunting. It affects every member of our family, member of our societies, and member of our entire nation. Most importantly, they recognize that we can stop this, but it takes each individual to actively participate."

The campaign is wide-reaching. The aim is not only to urge people to get regular eye exams, but also to maintain good health, as many other preventable diseases like diabetes can lead to vision loss. Although vision loss largely affects older people, See America is looking to raise awareness among both older and younger demographics.

The campaign is partnering with nonprofit Prevent Blindness to provide free eye exams in cities around the country, including Raleigh and Columbus. Plus, it is helping people find their nearest ophthalmologist or optometrist through its website to schedule an eye exam.

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"We're working with nonprofit groups like Prevent Blindness and making sure we're reaching high-risk populations who because of circumstance are not getting the eye care they need," said Dr. Elizabeth Yeu, ophthalmologist with Virginia Eye Consultants who's working with Allergan on the campaign.

Allergan worked with Mission Media on the campaign, which launches on Tuesday. The campaign will be ongoing for the next few years, Cukier said.

"The goal is to end preventable blindness by 2030," Cukier said. "Usually when anybody puts a stake in the ground like that, particularly when it's only 13 years away, it seems ambitious but perhaps unattainable. In this particular case there's a high level of confidence that if we can create the right level of engagement and if people take responsibility of seeing their eye care, we really can reduce that number even down to zero."

This story first appeared in PRWeek.