Optometry’s Meeting® 2014 in review

Optometry bid farewell to Philadelphia on Saturday as the 117th Annual AOA Congress & 44th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® concluded another successful, engaging chapter of this storied convention with around 5,000 registrants taking over the Pennsylvania Convention Center, June 25-29, for all things optometry.

Take a look at some of this year's events, from time-tested favorites to brand new offerings, sure to leave a lasting impression.

Leadership takes office
The 117th Annual AOA Congress concluded session Saturday with the AOA Board of Trustees election and official swearing in of new officers for the 2014-15 year.

The AOA's new president, David A. Cockrell, O.D., of Oklahoma, addressed state delegates, and highlighted recent scope of practice wins in Louisiana and other states. Dr. Cockrell encouraged all AOA members to engage in advocacy and volunteer efforts to strengthen the profession. Although founding ODs of the profession might not recognize optometry as it exists today, "I'm absolutely sure that they would cheer us forward," Dr. Cockrell said.

In handing the presidency over to Dr. Cockrell, AOA Immediate Past President Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., said he was leaving the position "knowing there is no shortage of capable leaders."

President's report
In summing up the past year's activities in his president's report, Dr. Munson discussed the results of the AOA's recent workforce study and how it underscores the demand for future eye care professionals. Inclusion of an embedded pediatric vision benefit in health plans was a big win for optometry and "is already making a difference for children in our country."

Awarded work
Optometry's Meeting also recognizes outstanding professionals in the field of optometry with the National Optometry Hall of Fame and the annual AOA awards. Thomas Miller, former executive director of the Blinded Veterans Association, also presented Dr. Munson with the BVA Health Leadership Award in recognition of optometry's leading role in improving low vision and vision rehabilitation to our nation's veterans. Miller applauded the AOA and its members for improving access to vision care through creation and expansion of the VA's Optometry Service.

Taking care of business
The 117th Annual AOA Congress heard updates and presentations from volunteers, staff and industry regarding ongoing work, including the Think About Your Eyes (TAYE) campaign's growing partnership with the AOA to raise awareness about vision health; and the annual report from AOA Interim Executive Director Jon Hymes.

Delegates also heard about a new clinical registry coming in 2015. Beth Kneib, O.D., AOA Clinical Resources Group director, explained the registry will yield cumulative outcomes for patients to generate data and identify areas of quality improvement.

Students raise crystal trophy
David Nguyen helped Southern California College of Optometry take home top honors at the 23rd Annual Varilux® Optometry Student Bowl. Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris University and Indiana University finished second and third, respectively. Students flexed their mental muscles in the annual trivia event while wearing school pride on their sleeves, literally.

Talking points
The AOA Board of Trustees held the first-ever "Colleague to Colleague" forum with members. Trustees discussed topics ranging from advocacy efforts, such as state grassroots advocacy, to optometry's shifting demographics and the National Eye Care Workforce Study.

Victory in Philadelphia
The 5K Run/Walk sponsored by The Vision Council and Transitions in support of Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation featured top male performers, George Veliky, O.D., of New Jersey; Larry Kocian, of Texas; and Farouk Bruce, of California; and top female performers, Kimberly Powell, of Illinois; Paige Mullins, of Pennsylvania; and Vanessa Fimreite, of New York.

Media blitz
Speakers highlighted the impact of AOA's new media campaigns and communications outlets. Teri K. Geist, O.D., chair of the AOA Communications and Marketing Group Committee, said the new AOA Focus magazine mentioned approximately 300 members, and the number of times members receive communications has doubled from 21 to 45 times a month among channels, including First Look, Week in Focus email, aoa.org/news and AOA Focus.

Resolute action
Before closing session, the House of Delegates passed two resolutions related to paraoptometric staff. The first, a resolution to continue support of paraoptometrics through the Paraoptometric Resource Center (PRC) and the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC), specified duties of staff members. The resolution stated tasks should be limited to "mechanical and technical functions not requiring the exercise of professional discretion and/or judgment, and shall not in any manner represent an extension of optometric licensure to those not licensed to practice optometry."

Members were also encouraged to enroll their paraoptometric staff as AOA associate members and obtain certification, according to the second resolution.

The House of Delegates adopted a final resolution regarding the optometric care of patients with brain injuries. The resolution encouraged health care professionals "to consider the possibility that a patient's ocular or visual signs or symptoms may have been the result of brain injury, including concussion." Furthermore, the AOA recommends an optometric evaluation to determine the presence of a brain injury-related ocular disorder or vision changes associated with brain injury.

As required by the AOA Bylaws, the AOA Judicial Council has reviewed the resolutions and has voted unanimously to "make effective" each of them.

In closing
Optometry's Meeting drew the curtains with one final gala—the Celebration of Optometry, sponsored by HOYA. Attendees recognized the 2014-15 AOA and AOSA boards, and took in entertainment by celebrated comedian and actor Martin Short.

Members can still view conference video highlights and an informal look at Optometry's Meeting through the eyes of their colleagues on AOA's dedicated social media page. And prepare now for Optometry's Meeting 2015 in Seattle, June 24-28.

July 2, 2014

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