November 15, 2023
Among its achievements this year, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) added members that expanded its influence beyond the United States and into ophthalmology and managed care. Review of Myopia Management Editor-in-Chief John Sailer caught up with GMAC Membership Committee Chair Dr. Rajeev Garg to discuss the implications of these new members and the benefits of partnering with this organization. Learn more from the interview here:
John Sailer, Editor-in-Chief, Review of Myopia Management: Hello and welcome to Review of Myopia Management‘s continuing interview series with GMAC, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition. I am John Sailer, Editor-in-Chief of Review of Myopia Management, and we are here today with the Chair of the GMAC Membership Committee, Dr. Rajeev Garg, the Global Head of Myopia Management Strategy for CooperVision. Thank you for being here, Dr. Garg.
Rajeev Garg, Membership Committee Chair, Global Myopia Awareness Coalition: Thank you, John, for having me, and thank you for the opportunity to share information about GMAC.
RMM/Sailer: Absolutely, it’s a good cause. We spoke earlier this year about your leadership of the GMAC Membership Committee, and there was some excitement among the organization back then about the new ophthalmological member, WSPOS, the World Society of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Since then you’ve had some other members join, including a managed vision care company. Can you tell us a little bit about your new members and why they are important?
GMAC/Dr. Garg: We have been really blessed to have people join GMAC’s mission and partner with GMAC. As we discussed at the beginning of the year, our goal was to integrate all facets of the pediatric journey. So that’s why having WSPOS, our first ophthalmology society to join GMAC, was really exciting because of such a critical role that ophthalmology plays in the pediatric journey.
And, as you said, since then, we have had multiple organizations join. You mentioned the managed care organization — United Health has joined GMAC and partnered with GMAC in the mission, which is great. United Health is one of the largest health carriers in the United States, and this landscape of the myopia category as it evolves, having such a critical organization in the health care space, having them guide this awareness, shape this trajectory, is going to be of huge importance as myopia management is a nascent category.
We also had the Canadian Association of Optometrists join and partner with the GMAC mission, making them the first international organization to join our ranks. This not only solidifies our G in GMAC, but it also expands our network of excellence beyond the United States. As we discussed at the beginning of the year, we wanted to bring G to life to the organization, which has traditionally been concentrated within the United States. Having the CAO now allows us to start reaching beyond the U.S. These organization joining has been fascinating for GMAC for this year, and I’m very proud to be part of this organization.
RMM/Sailer: Okay, excellent, very exciting to have these new members and going international with your new membership as well. So, in addition to having these new members join GMAC, what other accomplishments has GMAC achieved this year?
GMAC/Dr. Garg: From the membership committee perspective, our journey doesn’t stop here. Beyond this new organization joining, throughout this year we also have been working with other stakeholders. Specifically, diagnostic companies and other organizations to bring a complete picture when building this category. The idea behind all this is to have all different types of stakeholders that will bring a surround sound type effect, amplifying the limited resources that GMAC has. In terms of other accomplishments, it’s interesting to see the recognition of GMAC’s work is spreading. We get a lot of inquiries fueled by this awareness. Members are reaching out from organizations to us, and they ask us how they can get involved with GMAC. We have seen the surging inquiries. They’re coming through our efforts, and a lot of it goes to the efforts that our teams have been doing here.
We also realized the importance of supporting our existing members. Every year when budget time comes and renewal comes, we members have to justify to our organizations the value of GMAC. To this end, we also made an effort to actually help our existing members support in terms of continuing to partner with GMAC.
We recently organized a mixer (I know you were part of that) at the American Academy of Optometry meeting in New Orleans. This was the first time we had done that. We had a lot of members, new members, existing members, and more people from those organizations show up which allows for valuable connections to be built and also to help them see the impact that GMAC is making.
But beyond the Membership Committee, the marketing committee has been fabulous under the leadership of Layna Mendlinger. GMAC has embraced the digital frontier. We have had an Instagram channel and social channels. Plus, the renewed GMAC website allows us to scale and reach. This year another milestone from GMAC was that we had our first booth at the AAO meeting in New Orleans.
The marketing campaigns continue to do what they’ve done for the last three to four years, and their reach has been even more impactful and significant. They continue to blow away all the KPIs.
Also, importantly from this year, we as a board have been thinking and having strategic discussions about how we actually amplify GMAC’s impact and ensure its future sustainability as well. To that end, one thing which we have taken on is also trying to see how we support the ECPs. How do we support the ECP in driving awareness? Essentially for ECPs driving the awareness to consumers, and building the same material for ECPs so they can leverage the work GMAC is doing with consumers as well.
Also shifting a little bit strategically, that is, and hopefully that will allow us to be even more impactful in the years to come. So, in a sense, momentum is on our side. It’s been great accomplishments for the GMAC team all throughout.
RMM/Sailer: Okay, very exciting, lots of growth, expansion, and growing exposure there. So, your tenure as Chair of the GMAC Membership Committee, how long is that and are there any goals that you hope to achieve during that time?
GMAC/Dr. Garg: Yeah, our membership operates on an annual basis, and that is renewed each year. So, my term as a committee chair would conclude this December, but this group is extraordinary. I believe this momentum is going to continue even stronger.
And with our collaborative efforts you’ve seen the interest of several other organizations, which I mentioned earlier. So, in the remaining time we’ll continue to strive and hope that we can help new organizations partner with us for the next year to even grow GMAC further from that perspective. And I’m pretty confident some of those will join this team.
RMM/Sailer: Yes, excellent, okay, so lots of growth this year and plans for next year. So, my last question is that I’m sure there’s plenty of opportunity for others to get involved with such a good cause as GMAC and slowing the progression of myopia globally. Both for the industry and eye care professionals, can you let us know how others can get involved at this point?
GMAC/Dr.Garg: Yeah, our journey is just starting. To all your listeners, we really want to invite all those companies, professional societies, organizations who are dedicated to the well-being of children, let’s join hands in this cause.
You can reach out through MyopiaAwareness.org. That’s our website. You can reach out to any one of us. Contacts are available for any of the board members.
We really need to all partner in this together. This is not something any organization can do individually. GMAC is a unique organization, and by coming together we can amplify our efforts. I know this is a budget time, so feel free to reach out to help us help you justify this membership. Let’s just join together. Let’s join this partnership.
RMM/Sailer: Okay, excellent, great information. Thank you very much, Dr. Rajeev Garg, GMAC Membership Committee Chair and Global Head of Myopia Management Strategy for CooperVision. And thank you all for listening to Review of Myopia Management‘s continuing interview series with GMAC, the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition.