Press release

American Diabetes Association, with Visionary Partners VSP Vision Care and Regeneron Launch “The Next Step Eye Challenge” Campaign for Healthy Vision Month in May

May 20, 2021 | Arlington, Virginia

Over 34 million American adults currently live with diabetes and an additional 88 million are living with prediabetes, yet 85% of them do not know they have it. People living with diabetes or prediabetes are at an increased risk for developing a diabetes-related eye disease, such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. Even more troubling, recent polls indicate that 1 in 4 people are putting off their annual eye exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, vision loss from diabetes-related eye disease is 95% preventable with early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care. 

In observance of Healthy Vision Month in May, Focus on Diabetes™—a multi-year initiative that brings together the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) and Visionary Partners, VSP® Vision Care and Regeneron to increase awareness about diabetes and eye health, launched The Next Step Eye Challenge to raise awareness of diabetes-related eye disease and the steps people can take to maintain better eye health, regardless of where they are on their diabetes journey. To bring the challenge to the community, the ADA welcomed a new cadre of Focus on Diabetes Champion patient advocates for 2021, joining the 2020 Champions (Roger, Natalie and Patricia) to share their stories of living with diabetes and eye health issues across many ages, stages and walks of life. 

“Anyone with diabetes—type 1, type 2, and gestational—are at risk of developing a diabetes-related eye disease,” said Tracey D. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the ADA. “Just as diabetes management is not a one-size-fits-all approach, neither is taking care of our eye health. The Next Step Eye Challenge campaign, powered by weekly pillars, encourages participants to check the status of their eye health and educate people on the steps they can take to maintain it, as well as inspire conversations about eye health in their communities.”

“For the more than 120 million people with diabetes or prediabetes, an annual eye exam plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision and preventing blindness,” said VSP Vision Care President Kate Renwick-Espinosa. “Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 18-64, but it doesn’t have to be. 95% of vision loss associated with diabetes is preventable with early detection and appropriate management.”

Each week in May features themed activities:

  • Week 1 (May 3-7): Educate people with diabetes to take the next step towards better eye health and hear directly from trusted health professionals. 
  • Week 2 (May 10-14): Empower and inspire each other by sharing stories and hearing directly from the Focus on Diabetes Champions.
  • Week 3 (May 17-21): Execute on the initiative by taking your next step and sharing your experience with the Focus on Diabetes online community. 
  • Week 4 (May 24-28): Encourage one another to turn these positive changes into lifelong habits. 

On May 5, the Focus on Diabetes initiative kicked off with an educational roundtable on diabetes and eye health. The event featured a retina specialist, diabetes health expert, optometrist, and two patient advocates discussing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people living with diabetes, especially as it relates to their vision. For those who missed the event, a recording is available here

“Healthy Vision Month is an important reminder that people with diabetes should prioritize their eye health,” said Johnathan Lancaster, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Medical Affairs at Regeneron. “Along with our partners in the Focus on Diabetes initiative, we remain dedicated to raising awareness of diabetic eye disease with those who are most at risk and helping people understand that regular eye exams can help maintain vision.”

Follow along with us on social media: @AmDiabetesAssn, American Diabetes Association, @amdiabetesassn 

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About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. More than 122 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).

About VSP Global
VSP Global is a doctor-governed company that exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. Our industry-leading businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for nearly 90 million members through a network of over 40,000 doctors worldwide; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high-quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services, providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the industry leader in practice management and electronic health record software; VSP Retail, which focuses on increasing access to eye care and eyewear through multiple channels, and VSP® Ventures, which offers care-focused, customized choices for doctors looking to transition their practice.

About Regeneron 
Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for over 30 years by physician-scientists, the company’s unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to nine FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, almost all of which were homegrown in Regeneron laboratories. The company’s medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, pain, hematologic conditions, infectious diseases and rare diseases.