When it comes to vision, many people assume that vision loss or impairment is a normal part of aging, which could lead to ignored symptoms or delayed professional care of a treatable retinal disease. A recent survey* found that an astonishing 95% of adults at risk for serious retinal diseases know very little or nothing about them. This is even while more than two-thirds of these adults (70%) have experienced symptoms from such conditions.
One of the most common retinal diseases associated with aging is wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD). However, despite this disease being a leading cause of vision loss in the U.S., more than half (55%) of adults at risk of developing wAMD have not heard of it or other retinal conditions that can cause serious visual impairment, such as diabetic macular edema (DME) and diabetic retinopathy (DR).
Insights such as these underscore the importance of narrowing the significant knowledge gaps that are still prevalent when it comes to retinal disease awareness. As a company that is deeply connected to helping people maintain their vision, we work every day to empower those at risk of retinal diseases with the information they need to prioritize their eye health.
Introducing the Gr8 Eye Movement
With these insights in hand, and in collaboration with Prevent Blindness, Regeneron set out to raise awareness and start a movement prioritizing eye health called the Gr8 Eye Movement™. This disease awareness effort aims to help educate those most in need — adults who are at risk of serious retinal diseases such as wAMD, DME and DR — and encourage them to take action to protect themselves against vision loss. People most at risk of developing certain retinal diseases include adults 60 years of age and older, communities of color and those who are living with or are at risk of developing diabetes.
We’re especially honored to have award-winning actress, dancer and director Debbie Allen joining us in this effort and helping us elevate this message. Debbie’s passion for prioritizing eye health stems from her own pre-diabetes diagnosis and the personal impact retinal diseases have had on her family.
The Gr8 Eye Movement encourages those who are at risk of developing serious retinal diseases to dedicate the 8th of every month to prioritizing eye health and vision. Why the 8th? Because when the number 8 is turned on its side, it looks like eyes, and that is a simple reminder each month to prioritize your eye health, or to encourage loved ones to check their vision.
This simple reminder is very important because the survey also showed us that once at risk adults have information about retinal diseases, the majority of them (79%) were more likely to schedule a comprehensive eye exam in the next 6 months. That means we can possibly make a lot of change just by educating the public and encouraging those who are at risk to check on their vision regularly.
I am proud to be a part of the work that we do for our patients. At Regeneron, we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintaining the eye health of the millions of patients impacted by vision-threatening conditions. Science, technology and innovation have the remarkable power to change the lives of those living with retinal diseases, but another integral part of our role as scientific innovators is raising awareness of retinal diseases and providing education and information for populations at risk.
With the Gr8 Eye Movement, we are applying this same drive and innovative approach to help at risk adults prioritize their eye health, so they may continue to make the absolute most of their years ahead.