From Dry to Thriving: OcuWellness, one year on
A little over one year ago, staring at a blank content plan and a site consisting of only a few presentation slides, I felt a little daunted by the ambitious goal of making OcuWellness the go-to destination for trusted online eye care information. I believed in its potential, but how would we stand out in an internet saturated with healthcare information. Popular sites like WebMD and Healthline had every imaginable ailment already covered and, seemingly, every blogger and business had a must-read roundup on seasonal and trending healthcare topics.
With the rest of the web going big, we were to go small, super small. In fact, we launched OcuWellness in early 2022 with just one eye care focus: Dry eye. We put everything into creating the internet’s most comprehensive and rigorous source of information on the condition, specifically to answer every little niggle and what-if about dry eye that regular people might have. From the obscure ‘can coffee cause dry eye’ (the answer, surprisingly, is it can!), to the routine, we’ve got it covered. Today, I am proud to say that OcuWellness is the top resource for all things dry eye.
So why the laser-like approach? Cast your mind back to 2021 in peak pandemic and it becomes clear: In this world, it was nigh on impossible to get routine appointments for eye care (just see our report on it) with GPs and ophthalmologists, and as a result people like you and me were trying to self-manage using Dr Google as best we could. The trouble with this, as I along with so many others have experienced, is that a casual internet search of pretty much any symptom will leave you convinced you have the big C or that baking soda is the holy grail of natural cures for pretty much whatever (please whatever you do, don’t put it in your eyes).
Sight is precious and people deserved better than what was available. We – as Santen, the world experts in eyecare – could provide far superior information, based on more than 130 years of science and accumulated knowledge.
In an internet playground full of ‘fake news’ and quack science, we created OcuWellness as a place people can trust – every sentence of our site is fact-checked, responsibly referenced, and reviewed by doctors and medical specialists to the highest standard. And, despite the dry eye content, it’s anything but dry. With no-nonsense in clear plain-English, readers can take deep dives into specific topics and learn from our regular blog posts, sharing the latest thinking on eyecare and seasonal topics like itchy eyes and hayfever. It also includes a shop function for our over-the-counter (OTC) treatments so everything is within a few clicks.
Importantly, the site isn’t static, we react to gaps in knowledge when they pop up, according to the trends in keyword searches. So, for example, recently we’ve had younger people visiting OcuWellness to find out about screen-time and dry eye (likely due to the remote working shift) and when pollen peaks, there’s a surge of searches about its connection to symptoms of dry eye. I remember hearing that people were searching if you can sunburn your eyeballs and thinking it was crazy, but it’s something that can happen, and it made for a really interesting blog.
We also created some content on Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC), a rare allergic eye disease. Because it’s not common, there’s not much search volume and so typical sources of online healthcare advice either don’t cover it or provide very little information. We saw that people were looking for more, so we acted. For us, it wasn’t about clicks, it was about what was responsible and meeting that unmet need.
The basics are all covered too; there are OcuWellness blogs on general eye care, such as styes, red and bloodshot eyes, and seasonal information, like how to manage dry eyes in winter. Again, we delve into these with a science-backed but accessible approach.
Now just over a year since launch, OcuWellness is viewed 40,000 times every day. And we're thrilled to hear people living with dry eye and other eye conditions, thanking us for our useful information and tips. Our Key Account Managers report positive feedback from healthcare professionals too.
We’re clearly onto something and I’m excited that this is just the start.
The European version of OcuWellness has launched in Germany, Poland, and France, our social media channels via Instagram and Facebook are rapidly growing, and we have a packed blog schedule. While we launched with a focus on dry eye, we’re now expanding to include other eye conditions such as glaucoma and adding tools to help people better manage dry eye. On the shop-side of the site, we’ve got big plans too with new products in the pipeline.
I feel very proud on behalf of the OcuWellness team when I think about where we’ve come from and where we are now. These days my content plan never ceases to be packed with exciting updates, and the next nine months is no different!
NP-SANTEN-UK-0104 Date of preparation: May 2023