Home News Two Influential Partners Spearhead New Collective Effort

Two Influential Partners Spearhead New Collective Effort

On April 23, CooperVision and the American Optometric Association (AOA) launched The Myopia Collective, a partnership to rally the optometry profession and its allies to elevate the standard of care for children with myopia. The partnership was previewed the week before at AOA on Capitol Hill.

headshot of Dr. Mchele Andrews from CooperVision who speaks about the myopia collective
Dr. Andrews

Michele Andrews, OD, Vice President, Professional and Government Affairs, Americas, CooperVision, says she is excited about the initiative “because it represents two influential organizations coming together to say that myopia management is an important cause for optometry. This partnership can change how people think about myopia management in terms of protecting children’s vision, giving them the best opportunity for long-term vision and ocular health.”

CHANGE IS HARD

The conventional wisdom about myopia management has shifted over the years, especially as more evidence-based studies show the detrimental effects of high myopia and the efficacy of interventions. “When we talk with doctors, there is a great awareness about options for myopia management, but some doctors are not incorporating myopia management or they are not starting the treatment as early as they could. As a result, children are slipping through the cracks.”

That’s not entirely surprising. “Studies show it can take 17 years for scientific evidence to get applied into practice,” she says. However, that is the span of an entire generation of young myopes. “It’s time we cannot get back, so this program looks to shorten that. Ideally, we want the entire profession of optometry to say that we own this. These are our patients in our communities.”

MEMBERSHIP IN THE MYOPIA COLLECTIVE

purple and dark blue banner with the words The Myopia Collective in white. Logo of the new initiative
The Myopia Collective logo. Become a member here.

There are two central components to The Myopia Collective. CooperVision and the AOA are encouraging people—inside and outside of optometry—to join the collective. These members will work to spread the word, educating the community and encouraging earlier intervention.

The second is to identify what the program calls Change Agents. These will be optometrists who want to do more than offer myopia management in their offices. “These optometrists will become the face of The Myopia Collective and do what they can to accelerate change by connecting with educators, school nurses and communities.”

The goal is to have one or two of these representatives in each state to ensure representation for this program nationwide. “The Change Agents will come together for a workshop in September for what we believe will be a unique meeting of community connection and legislative advocacy,” she says.

BECOMING A CHANGE AGENT

While anyone interested can join The Myopia Collective, only optometrists can apply to become Change Agents. “You have to be a believer in myopia management and support the idea that children should not only be given new eyeglasses or contact lenses as their myopia progresses,” she says.

Applications close on May 17 and the list of these individual selected will be announced during Optometry’s Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Benner of the AOA in black suit jacket with pink tie and pink pocket square.
Dr. Benner

“Through The Myopia Collective, and with CooperVision’s ardent support, engagement in myopia management at the practice level and outreach at the state and local levels will substantially increase—effective advocacy delivering tangible change. It’s what our communities, our children, and the optometric profession deserve, and the AOA is proud to be part of this movement,” says AOA President, Ronald L. Benner, OD.

“If this initiative drives more children in for comprehensive exams, optometrists may also be able to detect and start treatment for other conditions identified earlier,” he says. In his Montana practice, he’s seen middle schoolers with 20/200 vision. “This was never caught in school, and we could have done so much to help those children if we caught it earlier,” he says. Nationally, fewer than 17% of children have had a comprehensive eye exam, he says.

STRONG COMBINATION

Dr. michele andrews and Dr. ron benner talking about the myopia collective
Dr. Andrews and Dr. Benner introduced The Myopia Collective briefly at AOA on the Hill in April.

AOA brings its national organization and advocacy strength to the initiative, and CooperVision brings the evidence and assistance to helping doctors get started, making it a powerful combination.

Dr. Andrews adds that CooperVision recently launched its quick start program, which provides practice implementation tools through video. “ODs and staff can watch and get started very quickly. Practices can model the communication and education examples provided here,” she says.

CooperVision also has about a dozen myopia management specialist team regionally located through the country. The goal is to help practices overcome barriers and start implementing myopia management as soon as possible.

Myopia management is firmly in optometry’s wheelhouse, say Dr. Andrews and Dr. Benner. The Myopia Collective can help bring even more attention to it.

Become a member here.

Apply to become a Change Agent here. 

Deadline to apply for Change Agent role is May 17, 2024

Photos: Courtesy of CooperVision and AOA

Read Women In Optometry stories here about optometrists who have built a specialty practice, including myopia management.

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