Regular viewers of Bravo’s Below Deck Down Under are likely familiar with a storyline that’s proven surprisingly popular among fans of the maritime reality show. It’s one that not only sparked discussions on Reddit and other social media platforms, but also elicited questions from reporters during the show’s press tours.

The episode in question involved show co-star Captain Jason Chambers who, after having a hard time inserting his contact lenses, found himself seeking the assistance of chief stewardess Aesha Scott. 

Missed that mini drama? The communications team for Acuvue contact lenses, which apparently includes a number of Below Deck Down Under fans, did not. 

“We were brainstorming and we decided to reach out to him to see if we could help him,” recalled Erin Wolf Valich, director of communications and public affairs for Johnson & Johnson Vision Americas. “We reached out to his team through his Instagram channel, talked to them two days later, and then two weeks after that we got him an appointment with [optometrist] Dr. Danielle Richardson from Zak in LA.”

Starting in late December, Chambers began to share his journey as a contact lens wearer with his viewers on both his own and Acuvue’s social media channels. His first post covered his meeting with Richardson, who has collaborated with J&J Vision on a number of educational efforts. 

Captain Jason Chambers
Captain Jason Chambers from the Bravo reality show Below Deck trying on Acute contact lenses with Dr. Richardson at Zak Optical West Hollywood. Image used with permission.

Over the next nine months, social posts are set to follow Chambers, as he navigates being a new contact lens user, and to emphasize the importance of annual eye exams. 

Chambers isn’t alone in being baffled by the basics of using and caring for contact lenses, a situation which limits their adoption. 

“Globally, there are about 120 million people wearing contact lenses today, but the market only reaches 10% of prospective wearers,” Wolf Valich pointed out. “One of the main reasons is discomfort. A lot of new wearers get a little nervous and they also find lenses a bit uncomfortable at first, especially when they’re transferring over from glasses.”

Wolf Valich noted that Chambers has enthusiastically embraced his new role as a sort of contact lens ambassador.

“He’s committed to sharing his story and inspiring others to talk to their eye doctors to go and get fitted for the right contact lenses and to learn how to properly put on contact lenses,” she said. “And I thought it was interesting, too, that he shared with us that it was as he reached his late 40s when he really started to encounter vision issues.” 

Given Below Deck Down Under’s central conceit — crew life aboard a superyacht — seeing the skipper himself fumbling for his glasses was not a good look, as it were. That led Chambers to make the leap to contact lenses. 

As he helps to spread Acuvue’s message, Johnson & Johnson Vision is also exploring ways to support one of Chambers’ causes, Classroom of Hope, an organization which builds schools in Indonesia. Chambers, who is Australian, has visited Indonesia often, sailing to many of the country’s islands. 

“We’re talking to see if we can partner Lions Club International [an organization with whom J&J Vision has frequently worked] with Classroom of Hope to potentially provide vision screenings,” said Wolf Valich.

She added that Acuvue has found Chambers an ideal spokesperson, not only from an image perspective but also in increasing contact lens proficiency, thanks to an appeal which manages to cut across demographics and draw in viewers of all ages and groups. 

As with many campaigns, the bottom line of the captain’s message is a common one — talk to your doctor. 

“If you’re nervous about putting on contact lenses or have questions about whether contacts are right for you, speak with an eyecare professional. It can make all the difference,” Wolf Valich said.