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Alcon, Inc. (ACL) and AARP Mark World Sight Day With First-of-Its-Kind Live Cataract Education Event

10/7/2013 10:03:47 AM

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FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 20 million Americans are currently affected by cataracts, and a new survey from AARP Media Sales and Alcon, the global leader in eye care, found that there are many questions and misperceptions among baby boomers about the condition, their options and how to treat it.

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Eighty-five percent of patients who took the survey reported that surgery helped address the reasons why they pursued treatment of their cataracts, including improving driving, reading and seeing at night. Yet, only two in five who have been diagnosed with cataracts plan on having surgery in the next two years, many citing fear as a reason. In an effort to address these concerns and raise awareness about the important role eye health plays in the lives of baby boomers and beyond, the two organizations will convene a panel of experts for a first-of-its-kind national education event called "Experts on Call" on World Sight Day (Oct. 10, 2013).

With the "Experts on Call" event, they hope to educate 50+ Americans about eye health, specifically cataracts and their impact on quality of vision, as well as advanced technology options and solutions. AARP and Alcon are inviting Americans affected by cataracts to participate in the event by tweeting questions in advance using the hashtag #WSD1010 or posting them on the AARP Facebook page. Participants can also call the toll-free number during the event (1-855-WSD-1010). All questions will be answered during a Google Hangout session broadcast live on the AARP YouTube channel from AARP studios in Washington, D.C.

Alcon is committed to educating patients about their options. Technological advances have transformed the treatment of cataracts over the past two decades and patients can look forward to not only treating their cataracts, but potentially correcting pre-existing eye conditions such as presbyopia and astigmatism, and reducing dependence on glasses. "At Alcon, we believe an informed patient is an empowered patient. That's why we want everyone with questions to join the 'Experts on Call' conversation," said Paul Soye, Global Head Research and Development, Cataract Franchise, Alcon. "We are committed to helping people see better by providing innovative eye care products that restore, preserve and enhance healthy vision at every stage of life, and we recognize that healthy vision is vital to independence as people age."

About Cataracts and the Vision Survey
Cataracts are the most common age-related eye condition and the leading cause of preventable blindness in adults 55 and older1. Cataracts occur when the natural lens in the eye becomes cloudy, allowing only a limited amount of light to reach the retina, causing blurry vision. The only known treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the clouded lens. Cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective health interventions, resulting in vision improvement in more than 95 percent of patients who undergo the procedure2.

The survey, conducted in 2013, explored attitudes around vision health and consequences of lack of good vision. The objectives were to measure awareness and understanding of cataracts and lens treatment options and also to understand how poor vision due to cataracts affects daily activities and well-being. One thousand members of AARP (aged 50+) were surveyed by phone. Five distinguished cataract surgeons helped develop the survey, including "Experts on Call" panelist and ophthalmologist Dr. Kerry Solomon.

"Too often, patients know they have cataracts, but delay treatment because they're scared or think their vision is not yet really affected," Solomon said. "However, the Vision Survey showed that more than two thirds were surprised at how much their vision improved after the procedure."

In addition to the need for more education, the Vision Survey found that the desire to maintain independence is what drives people to learn more about cataract surgery and their options. Age-related eye conditions, such as cataracts, can impact basic daily activities, like driving at night and reading, and may keep boomers from enjoying hobbies and performing day-to-day routines. Seniors indicate they would miss driving significantly more than all other activities that they could no longer perform if they had problems with their vision. Ninety percent of seniors drive; over half (54%) drive daily and a majority (82%) drive at night3.

"Older Americans today are more active and working longer than ever before," said Gabrielle Redford, a panelist for the event and editorial projects manager for AARP The Magazine. "Healthy vision is just so critical to maintaining an independent lifestyle as people age."

About the "Experts on Call" Event

  • "Experts on Call" will take place on World Sight Day, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.
  • Phone lines will be open beginning at 1:10 p.m. ET (toll-free number 1-855-WSD-1010).
  • The expert panel will include Dr. Bonnie Henderson, board-certified ophthalmologist and Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine, and Dr. Kerry Solomon, also a board-certified ophthalmologist, and the former associate editor of EyeWorld Magazine.
  • Questions will be answered during a Google Hangout session that can be accessed on the AARP YouTube channel, where the video will be broadcast live (
  • Tweet questions in advance using the hashtag #WSD1010 ( or post them on the AARP Facebook page at
  • To learn more about cataracts and available advanced technology solutions, visit

About Alcon
Alcon, the global leader in eye care, provides innovative products that enhance quality of life by helping people worldwide see better. The three Alcon businesses Surgical, Pharmaceutical and Vision Care offer the widest spectrum of eye care products in the world. Alcon is the second largest division of the Novartis Group with sales of USD 10.2 billion in 2012. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Alcon has more than 24,000 employees worldwide, operations in 75 countries and products available in 180 markets. For more information, visit

1. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Eye Institute (NEI), Eye Health Needs of Older Adults Literature Review, 2007. Available at:
2. Cataracts FAQ, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, 2013. Available at:
3. Data on File. AARP/Alcon Vision Survey, April 2013


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