By Jim McGrann, Chairman and CEO of Healthy Eyes Advantage
As a father and grandfather, I am encouraged by the increasing amount of attention being paid to children’s eye health. This is driven in part by recent reports noting significant upward trends in the amount of time children spend on digital devices and downward trends in the amount of time spent outdoors, as well as growth trends in myopia levels across all age groups.
While most of us naturally react to these disturbing reports with well-intentioned thoughts about the need to reverse this pattern, the reality is that these trends are likely to continue. As such, a better response is to place our energy behind efforts to protect children’s eye health, giving the next generation the opportunity to see the bright future that awaits them. New initiatives aimed at early education for both parents and children, as well as advances in lens technology and other innovations, are creating exciting new conversations centered around protecting young patients.
Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA) is more than just our name — it’s our commitment to promoting and supporting eye health, and we are proud to be leading a much-needed change in programs aimed at children’s eye health.
A key manifestation of this commitment is our recently-introduced Adventure Kids Club, which brings lenses, frames and fun together with innovative product features to help parents and children begin thinking about eye protection at an early age. The Adventure Kids Club includes a frame and lens package featuring Transitions® lenses for UV protection and blue light-filtering and Crizal® No-Glare lenses for scratch resistance and glare reduction. A unique, kid-pleasing aspect of the package is that both the frames and lenses change color. The cover story of this month’s issue of Solutions provides an in-depth look at this exciting new program, the reason behind its creation and an up-close look at the eyewear package.
I am also inspired by colleagues across the industry who are taking action to impact children’s eye health positively. HEA is pleased to be a founding sponsor of Healthy Eyes Healthy Children (HEHC), a community grants program administered by Optometry Cares–The AOA Foundation. HEHC is focused on increasing the outreach of vision services to communities, families, schools and the medical community, with special attention to underserved children in the U.S. This grant program offers an opportunity for optometrists to collaborate with other community resources to provide vision care, including eyewear, to children.
The HEHC program will award grants up to $5,000 to optometrists across the nation who propose projects that align with HEHC objectives. By taking a grassroots approach and working through existing community-based vision care models across the country, optometrists can use this funding to spread awareness and increase vision services to address uncorrected vision in each community. To learn more, including application submission details, visit aoafoundation.org/hehc. I look forward to learning details about the winning programs when grantees are announced in August.
To all of my friends throughout the eye care profession, I applaud the work you do every day on behalf of children’s eye health, and I look forward to working together for the good of future generations.