THE MILLENNIAL PROBLEM

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Charlene Walton, OD, is a member of Optometric Physicians of Washington and among the 18,000 doctors listed online with Think About Your Eyes, a national public awareness initiative promoting the importance of an annual eye exam and overall vision health. First Vision Media Group is a media partner of Think About Your Eyes.

When optometrists think of the age group most in need of an eye exam, we often think first of Baby Boomers, with the risk of glaucoma and other age-related vision issues. Children are second—growing eyes need to be monitored and vision issues caught early to prevent problems in the classroom and with development. However, one age group is both hard to reach and often ignored—Millennials.

The feeling is mutual. A survey by Think About Your Eyes showed that only 25% of Millennials visited the eye doctor in the past year as part of a regular health check-up. The same survey showed that 42% of Millennials who don’t go to the eye doctor regularly think their vision is “fine” and thus don’t need to make this a regular health check-up. However, Millennials face a variety of vision issues an optometrist can monitor. Frequent use of devices leads to reduced blinking and dry eye. Careers involving hours of computer work result in digital eye strain. Screen use before bed can disrupt sleep cycles. Millennials would be well-served receiving an annual eye exam for these lifestyle habits.

In order to engage Millennials, we need to meet them where they are—online. Many websites are already doing this, but they are also taking the personal touch out of vision health. But the in-person check-up and consultation is where true vision health care begins. As advocates for their vision health, it’s up to us to show value in the in-person visit while also making the logistics easy for patients. Allow appointments to be booked through an online portal. Send text-message reminders with a “text-to-confirm” prompt. Include an online messaging system between the patient and the office so questions can be sent at any time of day from any device. Social media presence is also important—a Facebook page with updated information about your office is an easy way to stay on a patient’s radar.

Think About Your Eyes is a great asset for reaching Millennials. Ads promoting annual eye exams run on lifestyle websites and streaming radio networks that have a high rate of Millennial users. Commercials air on cable networks with strong Millennial viewership, including Comedy Central, FX and ESPN. Think About Your Eyes’ Facebook page has more than 50,000 likes and posts content each month targeted specifically to Millennials. I’m proud to support this campaign that’s promoting vision health to an important population.

As a Millennial myself, I know the importance this generation places on our health and wellness. Reminding this age group to prioritize vision health is key to a healthy life.

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