Actress Debbie Allen is teaming up with Regeneron and Prevent Blindness, a volunteer eye health and safety organization, to launch the Gr8 Eye Movement.
Announced late last week, Allen is participating in the campaign focused on raising awareness on retinal diseases that can lead to blindness, such as wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy.
As the name suggests, the campaign urges patients to designate the eighth day of the month to check their vision and prioritize their eye health. The number eight was chosen as a visual reminder for the campaign since “8” on its side looks like a pair of eyes.
The campaign is supported by a 100-second ad featuring Allen in a dance studio explaining how diabetes is linked to eye disease and a loss of vision among patients.
Allen, who starred in the TV shows Fame, A Different World and Grey’s Anatomy, said her family history of diabetes, which caused several relatives to be blinded by diabetic eye disease, was an inspiration for her joining the campaign. Her own diagnosis of pre-diabetes sparked a concern about what it could mean for her vision.
“Maintaining vision has become a growing priority in my life. In particular, I’ve learned it’s crucial for people like me — who are from communities of color, are over the age of 60, or who are living with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes — to educate themselves about the risk of developing a retinal disease,” Allen stated. “Also, as I age, I know I could be at risk for developing other retinal diseases like wet age-related macular degeneration that could potentially hinder me from doing the things in my life I love most.”
Mitigating the deterioration of a person’s vision due to diabetes has become a critical task for healthcare companies like Regeneron in recent years.
An estimated 7.7 million Americans have diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute, and that number is expected to climb to 11.3 million by the end of the decade.
The effort, which has its own microsite, features resources and information that prioritize eye health for patients, tips on how to use an Amsler grid to detect changes in vision and advice on when to make an eye care appointment.