While Regeneron’s new awareness campaign comes with a lighthearted pun title, “Now Eye See” addresses a serious problem for people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye complication and a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
An animated TV ad explains the connection between diabetes and eyesight, warning that high blood sugar can damage blood vessels in the eyes. Still, the generally upbeat commercial ends with a call to action, noting “Just say to yourself ‘now I see,’ then go see an eye care specialist.”
Many people with diabetes don’t know about the disease, and since it can be asymptomatic, may skip routine eye exams and go undiagnosed until damage has progressed, said Kevin Clark, VP and head of the ophthalmology commercial business at Regeneron, which makes Eylea, in an email interview.
On top of that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people with diabetes deprioritized their eye health, and we felt now was an appropriate time to remind people of the importance of prioritizing eye care visits, especially as diabetes and [diabetic retinopathy] rates are on the rise,” he said.
The TV, digital, print and audio campaign includes a website hub where people can get more information including taking a quiz to gauge eye health and questions to ask a doctor. The target audience is people with diabetes—which now numbers more than 34 million in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—especially those already diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy to remind them about the need for regular eye exams.
Clark said Regeneron is using mainstream TV advertising “to reach as many people as possible through this campaign to help address this important public health issue.”
The work includes a Spanish-language website to make sure there is awareness among the Latino community, whose members are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy and less likely to be screened, he said.
While the campaign is unbranded, Regeneron’s Eylea was approved in 2019 to treat diabetic retinopathy and is also indicated to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema and macular edema following retinal vein occlusion.
Eylea sales tallied almost $8.4 billion in 2020 sales, and sales are split with Bayer, which markets the macular degeneration drug outside the U.S.