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    What optometry can learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    The profession has an opportunity to create a viral sensation of its own

    The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Over $100 million donated; a staggering 259,505 new donors to the ALS Association; millions and millions of people posting on social media.1 The groundswell of support has been tremendous. One can only hope that the cure will come about with these research dollars raised.

    August 2014 saw a public awareness campaign show the world the power of social media. This unprecedented viral video initiative is something that optometry hopefully can learn from and replicate for its own public awareness campaigns. Let’s take a look at the how this all happened and see if we can come up with a similar social sensation.

    Why has Demodex gone viral?

    Going viral

    For a solid period of at least two weeks beginning in mid-August, if your Facebook newsfeed looked anything like mine, you were bombarded with people pouring buckets of ice water over their heads, raising funds and awareness for ALS. Traditional fundraising and public awareness campaigns have had limited impact. In fact, the same 30-day period last year yielded only less than $3 million. The difference this year was that the movement was utilizing new technology. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are ideal environments for the ALS IBC to be posted, liked, shared, commented on, and retweeted. The best part is that the content is user driven. With so many mobile devices out there, nearly everyone can be a content producer using their smartphones video camera and posting via an app. The timing and technology was just right for this movement to occur.

    How did this movement start? Pete Frates is a 29-year-old former Boston College baseball star who is suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He initiated the challenge to his friends. But thanks to the power of social media, the challenge spread across the Internet. The premise of the challenge is simple: somebody nominates you, and you have 24 hours to donate $10 to the ALS Association and dump a bucket of ice water on your head or donate $100 to the ALS Association. If you accept the challenge and dump the ice bucket on your head, you get to nominate a new set of people. The cascade soon reached and raised millions.

    Optometry has many noble causes and worthy charities that are in need of a little attention. We have eye diseases and conditions that could great benefit from a boost in public awareness. Optometry is in need of an Ice Bucket Challenge. To create our own IBC, lets break down the characteristics of the ALS IBC.

    Justin Bazan, OD
    Dr. Justin Bazan is the owner of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, NY. He serves as a spokesperson to the Vision Council and is on their ...


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