Optometry’s Meeting® Kicks Off with Call for National Pediatric Eye Health and Vision Mobilization

June 21, 2023
AOA Voices Optometry’s Vision with 5,000+ Doctors of Optometry, Students, Professionals and Industry Leaders in the Nation’s Capital

Washington, D.C. – June 21, 2023 – Optometry’s Meeting®, the premier annual event hosted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), today marked the start of the four-day experience with more than 5,000 doctors of optometry, students, optometric professionals and industry leaders gathering in Washington, D.C.

During the event’s opening day, AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., welcomed attendees and shared the AOA’s nationwide call to close the children’s eye health and vision care gap. This rally for health care and industry mobilization was created to address children’s access to comprehensive and preventive eye health and vision care.

“Optometry’s time is now and AOA is seizing the moment, fighting every day to secure success for all doctors of optometry,” said AOA President Dr. Benner. “Our essential health care role is expanding at the local, state and Federal level every day and it is because of the commitment and strength of our member doctors, students and staff. It is our pioneering spirit and determination that will pave the path to optometry’s advancement and improved eye health care for patients, in particular for our next generation.”

AOA+ Rally

This year’s Optometry’s Meeting also plays host to the AOA+ experience and AOA on Capitol Hill for the first time since 2017.

Representing the starting point to the AOA’s year-round program to help the profession’s future find success in optometry, AOA+ at Optometry’s Meeting welcomed more than 2,400 students, new doctors and faculty to Washington, DC during the first large-scale gathering.

AOA Experience and Opening Reception

During the AOA Experience and Opening Reception, supported by Johnson & Johnson Vision, recipients of AOA’s annual awards were recognized for their contributions and celebrated by the profession. The event’s keynote speaker, Cassandra Worthy, founder and CEO of Change Enthusiasm Global®, shared her practical and repeatable framework for disrupting “change as usual.” Her self-cultivated strategy arms individuals with the means to harness the power of emotion to embrace and accelerate change and transformation journeys.

Call for National Pediatric Eye Health and Vision Mobilization

During his welcome address to attendees, Dr. Benner shared updates on the association’s business and initiatives – including the Call for National Pediatric Eye Health and Vision Mobilization. The initiative aims to remedy the pandemic’s acceleration of screen time and lack of access to community resources found in a traditional school environment. 

“Today’s children are truly the foundation for our nation’s future,” said Dr. Benner. “They will be the ones who harness and master AI, reach new planets and in their spare time tackle the issues in our environment, just to name a few. Yet, there is a serious chasm in our system that can impact their future – accessing essential, comprehensive and preventive eye health and vision care.”

With most learning, cognition and perception abilities mediated through vision, the initiative was deemed crucial by AOA leadership with urgency to close the gap on uncorrected refractive errors before they can adversely impact a child’s literacy, visual efficiency, and perceptual skills.

The multi-year, public and private, health care and industry mobilization will build a consortium of doctors, industry representatives, like-minded associations, parents, teachers and policymakers invested in children eye and vision health. By unifying these groups, this initiative will identify strategies to close the gap in children’s eye health and vision care by:

  • Advocating on the federal level for policies and programs that ensure that children get the eye care they need and deserve,
  • Assimilating the evidence and creating a playbook to help expand Federal- and state-level advocacy efforts and guide policy decisions,
  • Addressing access to care, particularly for the underserved, and
  • Driving public awareness to help educate stakeholders and the public about children’s eye health and vision care and access to it.

Leading this initiative as the primary eye health care authority, the AOA sees this gap as a crisis that can be solved by unifying the industry and public to protect the next generation of leaders. More information on the initiative will be shared in the coming months.

Optometry’s Meeting takes place June 21-24 in downtown Washington, D.C., at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For more information on Optometry’s Meeting, visit www.optometrysmeeting.org, and follow along on social media 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 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.