AOA’s Advocacy Work and Recognition Continues; Inaugural Center for Independent Practice Symposium Held; and Exceptional Individuals Recognized During Third Day of Optometry’s Meeting

June 23, 2023

Washington, D.C. – June 23, 2023 – Continuing the 2023 groundbreaking Optometry’s Meeting, the American Optometric Association resumed optometry’s work during the House of Delegates, kicked off the first symposium hosted by the Center for Independent Practice (CIP) providing insights to help drive practice success and recognized optometry’s changemakers. The second to last day concluded with a dynamic Celebration of Optometry at Washington, D.C.’s Wharf with networking, music and a show-stopping fireworks finale.  

House of Delegates Continues with Critical Partners in Advancing Optometry’s Priorities

Patients Rising co-founder, executive director Terry Wilcox, was presented with the AOA Health Care Leadership Award during AOA’s House of Delegates for the organization’s support and advocacy for the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act. A leading patient advocacy organization speaking out on behalf of tens of millions of patients nationwide, Patients Rising has helped issue a call for Congress to put a stop to increasingly harmful vision benefit manager abuses. The group is urging lawmakers to act now to fix the broken vision plan market and has committed more than 110,000 members of its advocate network to ramping up the fight.

In relating her own personal stories about taking care of her mother and son, Wilcox shared her frustrating experiences navigating a complicated insurance landscape and why she’s personally supportive of the DOC Access Act, as well as formally committing her organization’s support to the legislation.

AOA and American Dental Association Expand Advocacy Ties

American Dental Association (ADA) Board Trustee Randall Markarian, DMD, M.S., met with AOA and affiliate leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. and called for an expanded patient safety advocacy alliance with the American Optometry Association (AOA).  Dr. Markarian spotlighted the AOA, ADA and Patients Rising-backed effort to pass the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act, bi-partisan legislation in the US House and Senate to crackdown on anti-doctor, anti-patient abuses of dental and vision benefits middlemen.  

Ronald L. Benner, O.D., AOA president, pledged to help identify new avenues for coordinated advocacy by the two organizations, with special emphasis on urgent state and national access to care priorities. Dr. Benner presented Dr. Markarian with the AOA Health Care Leadership Award in recognition of this year’s success in growing Capitol Hill support for the DOC Access Act and stepped scrutiny of abusive plan policies.

Health and Human Services’ Deputy of Staff Ramirez Presents at House of Delegates

In a speech on behalf of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, Angela Ramirez, Deputy of Staff for HHS, praised the work of America’s often-beleaguered health care workforce that still contends with pandemic repercussions despite the official cessation of the public health emergency. Specifically, Ramirez noted how economic issues persist, creating not only staff retention but also pipeline issues in health care. Yet despite these consequential factors at play, health care professionals, such as doctors of optometry, continue to exhibit sheer fortitude.   

“We [at HHS] really want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” Ramirez told AOA’s House of Delegates. “Thank you for all you do, and thank you for looking out for all Americans.”

CIP Inaugural Symposium

The AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP), supported by Johnson & Johnson Vision and in partnership with leading academic institutions, Southern College of Optometry, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry and University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry, held its inaugural symposium featuring keynote speaker Tom Bowen, founder and CEO of THRIVE Practice and Life Development.

The symposium offered insights into opportunities to be successful in independent practice. Additionally, leading doctors of optometry discussed their experiences and perspectives on independent practice during a lively conversation. The free event built on CIP’s mission to strengthen the position of doctors of optometry and optometry students in the evolving health care landscape.

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXII crowns a champion

Zachary Ney of the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) lifted the trophy after another AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ powered by EssilorLuxottica. The high-speed, high-stakes test of optometric knowledge pits one champion from each school against all others and is a highlight of Optometry’s Meeting year after year. This year, UHCO stole the show after being awarded the competition’s Spirit Award as well.

Hall of Fame and AOA Awards Reception

Celebrating optometry’s advancements and the hardworking individuals that contribute to the profession’s success, recipients of the Hall of Fame awards were recognized for their contributions and celebrated by the profession.

Celebration of Optometry

Gathering with familiar colleagues and new connections, thousands of attendees joined the Celebration of Optometry for a dynamic evening at the Wharf in the nation’s capital. The event, supported by the AOA Advocacy Roundtable partners, MyEyeDr., EyeCare Partners, Keplr and AOAExcel, brought doctors, students, professionals and industry together for a night of entertainment and networking, featuring music, food and a showstopping display of fireworks to cap off the evening

Optometry’s Meeting takes place June 21-24 in downtown Washington, D.C., at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For live updates, visit the Optometry’s Meeting news page and follow along on Facebook and Twitter


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’s 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.