Vision Express campaign celebrates women in their midlife

The campaign highlights the importance of eye health at this stage of life and kicked off with a panel event discussing eye health, varifocals, and style

panel at vision express event
Rekha Damhar
Vision Express has launched a new campaign to encourage women to celebrate middle age and to highlight the importance of eye health at this stage of life.

The optical group has partnered with the radio DJ, Jo Whiley, and the midlife platform, Noon, to tackle the stigma women in this demographic can face.

The campaign launched with a panel event on 27 October, celebrating the ‘Queenager.’

Research by Vision Express found that 61% of women said they underestimated what going through menopause involved, while 82% think more should be done to raise awareness about menopause.

As part of the campaign, Vision Express aims to highlight the importance of eye care and regular sight tests during menopause.

Marketing director at Vision Express, Jane Exon, said: “As women approach midlife, looking after their health becomes paramount – but eye care can often be overlooked. The menopause can have a serious impact on our eyes, causing issues with day-to-day vision, which is why it is so important to keep getting your eyes tested, and to try more options such as varifocal glasses.”

Exon added that varifocals present an ideal option for patients “who want to see clearly and be their best.”

Brand ambassador for Vision Express, Whiley, partnered with the optical group on a campaign in 2021 and returns as part of the new campaign to “show how midlife is a joyful and free time of life.”

“Women of this age have far more options – there’s so much freedom to explore the things you want to do. However, it’s important to look after your health during this period,” Whiley commented.

Rekha Damhar
Eleanor Mills, founder of the midlife platform, Noon, and brand ambassador for Vision Express, Jo Whiley, took part in two panel discussions at an event to kickstart the optical brand’s new campaign

Celebrating the ‘Queenager’: takeaways from the launch of Vision Express’ new campaign

To launch its new campaign, Vision Express hosted a live discussion panel with inspirational women, entrepreneurs and television presenters.

Panellists discussed the importance of eye health and shared their journeys into becoming spectacle wearers, as well as how they have embraced varifocals.

The panels also sought to celebrate this period of life and the achievements and successes that middle age can bring.

OT has picked out a few eye health and eyewear takeaways from the discussions:

Prioritising eye health

Senior optometrist at Vision Express, Peena Govind, was asked what women in midlife should be aware of when it comes to their eye health.

“There are a host of different symptoms that will happen all at the same time so a lot of women can just put it down to one of those things that they have to put up with,” she said, noting changes to vision or comfort as a few examples.

“But there are solutions out there,” she emphasised, encouraging the audience to speak to an optometrist to find a solution that suits their lifestyle.

Baroness Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club, described the insight that an eye test can give. Acknowledging some nervousness that “you might discover something about your health,” she explained: ‘I understand my eyes a bit better now, and I felt assured that there were no dramas.’

Mary Ann Sieghart, columnist, author and former assistant editor for The Times, also highlighted the importance of regular eye tests and the reassurance this can provide.

Explaining that members of her family have experienced macular degeneration, Sieghart said: “I get checked every year because you have to catch it early.”

Jo Whiley
Rekha Damhar
Jo Whiley described the benefits she gains from varifocal spectacles when DJ-ing

Incorporating eyewear into style

Speaking at the event, Whiley described her spectacle-wearing journey, telling the audience: “I was very reluctant to wear glasses. I used to be very embarrassed and self-conscious of wearing glasses.”

In carrying out radio shows and interviews, requiring her to look between her questions and the interviewee, Whiley came to accept that she needed a solution.

Through her partnership with Vision Express, Whiley explained how she has been able to explore a range of styles: “Now they are like an accessory and I really enjoy playing with wearing glasses. It is giving me real confidence.”

Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street, also celebrated the fashion side of eyewear.

“I have special built-in drawers to keep all of my different glasses,” she explained, adding that she selects her eyewear to “empower” herself, based on: “how I feel that day, and what I’m wearing.”

She added: “If you’re wearing cool glasses people will actually tell you: ‘I really love your glasses.’ Use it, own it. Empower yourselves with the things that we need as an older woman.”

Vision Express’ Exon encouraged audiences to enjoy trying new glasses and styles.

Embracing varifocals

Panellists also discussed varifocals, from getting used to the lenses to the freedom this option brings to them.

Eleanor Mills, founder of Noon and panel moderator, explained her reluctance to get glasses, having always “prided myself on having perfect eyesight.”

“But I found I really love my varifocals,” she added. Reflecting on the difference that varifocals can make, Mills highlighted the importance of realising that “just because something is a bit different from how it used to be, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worse. Embrace that difference.”

Describing the benefits she has seen from varifocals, Whiley shared: “When I am DJ-ing, the light is really dark and dim and you can’t really see what you are doing. To be able to check what tracks I am going to be playing, and then look out and see the gorgeous audience I have in front of me, [varifocals] were a real gamechanger.’

Morrissey, who had recently received her first pair of varifocals, acknowledged that it would take a few days to get used to the new lenses.

“I think it is liberating ultimately, the idea of not having lots of different paraphernalia and two pairs of glasses. So I’m going to persevere,” she added.

Asked how she would encourage patients to embrace varifocals, Govind said: “Lots of people have heard horror stories about varifocals. But there is an option for everyone.

“It is just about finding the right option, taking into consideration what you do, your prescription and what sort of frame style you have, to give a tailor-made personalised solution,” she added.

Rekha Damhar
Dr Peena Govind

An optometrist’s take

OT caught optometrist Govind after the panels for an insider view on the day’s events and to discuss how optometrists can have a conversation about midlife with their patients.

Talking to OT about what it meant to be part of the panel, she said: “I felt quite privileged,” and described the value in learning from a first-hand perspective.

“I think when you are an optometrist and you are trying to give people your personalised recommendation, it can sometimes feel a little bit abstract,” she said. “I’m in a situation where I probably need varifocals for the first time, and it actually resonates.”

Discussing how optometrists can open conversations with patients about entering the middle years and some of the support that might be needed around this, Govind said: “I think it’s about not sticking to a set history and symptoms dialogue and just having a conversation.”

Peena describes the event in three words

“Embrace and enjoy”

“Asking things like, ‘What have you been up to today?’ or ‘Will you be doing anything after this?’ tells you a lot about somebody,” Govind explained. Learning these details about a patient can be helpful to tailor a solution according to “what it is that is important to them.”

“There is not one solution that fits all,” she emphasised. “Even with dry eye, for example, it could be that drops work for one person, when for the next it might be something completely different. It is about understanding what is practical for people to incorporate.”

Reflecting on what she hoped the audience would take away from the panel discussions on eye health in midlife, Govind said: “That it is a normal change. It is something you can embrace and not something that you need to be embarrassed, awkward or uncomfortable about.”