Sarah Michelle Gellar is probably best known for her on-screen portrayal of beloved demon-battling Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But what many people might not know is that off-screen, the award-winning actress, producer and entrepreneur has been dealing with a struggle of her own: myopia.
The vision condition commonly referred to as nearsightedness also impacts her husband and, as she discovered during the global COVID-19 pandemic, her eight-year-old son.
To help fight the growing problem, which experts believe will impact half of the world’s population by 2050, Gellar has teamed up with CooperVision to raise awareness about its Brilliant Futures Myopia Management Program, which became available in Canada in November.
Brilliant Futures is built around CooperVision’s Health Canada-approved MiSight 1 day, the world’s first one-day soft contact lens that’s clinically proven to substantially slow the progression of myopia in age-appropriate children.
- Also known as nearsightedness or short-sightedness.
- A very common visual condition that affects nearly 30 per cent of Canadians.
- Normally begins in childhood and continues to increase until the individual reaches the age of 20.
- Projected to affect the vision and increase risks to ocular health of approximately five billion people by 2050, more than doubling today’s numbers.
- Has been linked to sight-threatening conditions later in life such as cataracts, retinal detachment, glaucoma and myopic maculopathy.
As Brilliant Futures’ spokesperson, Gellar is featured in a new multi-channel direct-to-consumer advertising campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams in monitoring the progression of myopia in children as well as promoting CooperVision’s MiSight 1 day. It is believed to be possibly the world’s largest-ever consumer myopia management awareness initiative.
Recently, Optical Prism spoke with Gellar about her history with myopia, how the condition affects her family, CooperVision’s Brilliant Futures and her collaboration with the company.
- Can you tell us about your personal experience with myopia?
- I was an adult when I realized that I was struggling a little bit with my eyesight. I was on the set of Buffy and we had a full-time eye doctor and lens tech. He noticed when I was looking at my script in my chair and he asked me when was the last time I had my eyes checked. And I realized probably not in a very long time. And so he was able to check my eye sight right there on set and realized that I needed glasses.
- What challenges have you experienced due to your myopia?
- There are always challenges in whatever job it is you do. For me, it was cue cards. When you’re hosting Saturday Night Live, how do you make sure you can read everything properly when they’re changing it at the last second and it’s not about memorization? And I worked very long hours and my eyes would continually get tired while reading scripts so often.
- At what point did you realize that your son was also myopic?
- It’s been an interesting learning curve for us through quarantine. Initially, when our kids went to distance learning, we noticed that our son was blinking a lot. He was really struggling to focus and his eyes were heavy. His teacher noticed too and she asked me what I thought about it and my initial reaction was screen fatigue since our kids didn’t have a lot of access to devices prior to this time and now all of a sudden, for eight hours a day, they’re taking in all this information. But, as it progressed, I noticed it wasn’t getting any better, which normally with screen fatigue your eyes would acclimate and get used to the new struggle. And so, at that point, we decided that we should get his eyes looked at. We took him to the eye doctor and we found out that not only was he myopic, but that it was progressing extremely quickly due to the fact that he had these extended periods on these screens.
- What do you like about CooperVision’s MiSight 1 day?
- There are two things that I think are incredibly important about CooperVision’s MiSight. One is the opportunity to slow the progression; that’s not something that existed for me at that age. So anything I can do that would slow that progression for my son, I want to.
But, also, the idea of a contact lens that’s disposable, that’s daily, that the kids aren’t worried about getting dirty or losing and that he doesn’t feel different about the way he looks and he can continue to do his sports and he doesn’t feel impacted really at all by the diagnosis.
- Will your son be using MiSight 1 day?
- At our next appointment, we will be seeing if he is a candidate. We’re excited; he’s excited.
- What excites you about your collaboration with CooperVision?
- For me, everything’s about education and knowing what the options are. For me, it’s about being able to use my platform to share that information and hopefully have other parents notice the signs earlier than I did with their kids and know what to look for.
By Denis Langlois