Optometry’s Meeting® Welcomes Pre-Pandemic Level Audience of More Than 4,500 Attendees to Nashville

June 19, 2024
The event opened honoring Juneteenth, celebrated impactful advocacy wins and explored the potential of harnessing AI

Nashville, Tennessee – June 19, 2024 – Mirroring the American Optometric Association’s gains in membership, policymaking and media advocacy, Optometry’s Meeting® 2024 welcomed more than 4,500 doctors, students, paraoptometric staff and industry supporters to Nashville. Breaking tradition, Optometry’s Meeting also opened the sold-out Exhibit Hall after the AOA Experience: Opening Session on day one of the event.  

Marking the 127th Annual American Optometric Association (AOA) Congress and 56th Annual American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) Conference, the annual four-day education, governance and networking event focuses on optometry’s essential and expanding role in health care and is the largest gathering of AOA doctors since 2018.  

A Tennessee Welcome 

Kicking off the event, Laura Sechler, O.D., president of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, shared the importance of the annual conference.  

“Just as Tennessee and Nashville are beacons for artists and dreamers, we are the guiding lights for our patients' eye health. Each eye exam we conduct, each diagnosis we make, and each treatment we prescribe is a step toward a clearer, brighter future for those we serve.So, welcome once again to Tennessee, where the music is always playing, the food is always delicious, and our hospitality is always as warm as a summer’s day. We hope your stay is filled with insightful discussions, eye-opening experiences, and perhaps a little bit of country music,” said Dr. Sechler.  

Celebrating Advocacy on Every Level 

During his address, President Steven T. Reed, O.D., celebrated successes of the past year, including the advocacy for coverage and reimbursement fairness, which resulted in more than 10,000 meetings and interactions with policymakers.  

Additionally, Dr. Reed shared that through the AOA’s public awareness campaign, Eye Deserve More, more than 600,000 patients are actively seeking AOA doctors on aoa.org.  

“This is what I know will be a powerful week, filled with world-class continuing education, opportunities to connect with colleagues, conduct the business of our association, and re-energize ourselves for the work we want to accomplish together,” Dr. Reed said.  

American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) President Derek Bryant also highlighted how AOSA’s mission drives its members by empowering students to thrive as doctors of optometry through "everyday advocacy.”  

 “It’s about spreading the word that we are here to make a difference, and we are trained to handle a wide range of procedures and treatments that benefit our patients immensely,” he said. 

Embracing New Opportunities in AI   

Leading artificial intelligence (AI) transformation advisor and keynote speaker, Tom Lawry, spoke to artificial intelligence (AI) and the evolving impact on optometry. Lawry emphasized the differences between ‘predictive AI’ and ‘generative AI,’ the latter being a recent term seen in headlines while the former has been used by medicine for over two decades.  

Predictive AI’s utility in assessing patients’ medical outcomes and risk, as well as patient flow, differs from that of generative AI, known for creating text, images or videos. Yet, Lawry demonstrated generative AI’s capabilities by asking AI to rewrite the AOA Evidence-based Optometry Committee’s Clinical Report: Myopia Management into a patient handout, written at an easily digestible fourth grade reading level. 

 “This opens the door to a lot of possibilities for health care providers,” Lawry said. “It gets us to the point of thinking: how do I do work differently?” 

Eye Care Square Boasts Record Numbers  

Eye Care Square opened Wednesday evening with a reception filled with great musical fanfare. Nearly 160 exhibits were signed up, numbers not seen since before the COVID-19 outbreak.  

The immersive Exhibit Hall showcases the latest products and solutions as well as activations presented by exhibitors. Over the next two days, Eye Care Square will host hot-topic discussions, networking events, industry-prepared sessions, podcasts and more.  


About Optometry’s Meeting® 

Optometry’s Meeting, the annual meeting of both the AOA and AOSA, aligns optometric and industry professionals for a four-day experience to advance optometry and engage the association’s official business. Optometry’s Meeting renowned educational program supports every member of the care team with progressive continuing education and professional development opportunities. Simultaneously delivering an impactful conference experience, Optometry’s Meeting promotes networking and connection through the expansive exhibit hall, as well as a dynamic program of special events.  

About the American Optometric Association 

The American Optometric Association (AOA) is the leading authority on and advocate for quality eye health care, representing more than 49,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and optometric professionals. As the sole primary eye care provider in many communities across America, doctors of optometry are often a patient's first entry point into the health care system, and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disorders, diseases, and injuries that affect the eye and visual system. Through a nationwide public health initiative, AOA's Eye Deserve More campaign is fostering awareness of the importance of eye health and vision care and the overall health benefits of in-person, comprehensive eye examinations with AOA doctors of optometry for all Americans.