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Ferris: Access is main barrier to addressing eye health


One disconnect Bausch + Lomb’s John Ferris sees in the conversation about health care is the relative lack of attention paid to eye health — even though age-related macular degeneration affects two-and-a-half times more people than Alzheimer’s disease, and baby boomers are as concerned about vision loss as contracting heart disease and cancer.

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The main barrier to addressing eye health — and creating eye health consumers — that Ferris identified is cost and access, as more than half of baby boomers don’t get regular eye exams.

“A company like Walmart — with its vision centers — has an opportunity to really expand that access because if consumers get in and get an eye exam, these conditions are diagnosed much earlier. And frankly, you’re much more likely to save or preserve your vision,” Ferris said.

As access to affordable vision health services increases, Ferris said, so too will the growth of a consumer base that now thinks about eye health as part of overall health. “Any opportunity we can take to lower those barriers ... starts them into the funnel where they then become an eye health consumer, and we start to develop this eye health market,” Ferris said. “Now they’re thinking about eye health, ... [and] there are a lot of other activations that can be done there. I think the opportunity is here, though someone needs to lead the way for them.”

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