Optometry’s Meeting Welcomes Canadian Association of Optometrists, Gears up for 2025 Optometry’s Meeting and World Congress of Optometry

June 21, 2024

Nashville, Tennessee – June 21, 2024 – While celebrating the success of this year’s Optometry’s Meeting, AOA President Dr. Steven T. Reed shared the plans for 2025 – which will partner the event with the World Council of Optometry to host the 5th World Congress of Optometry. Set to take place June 25-28, 2025, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it will feature a convergence of global perspectives and innovative solutions aimed at realizing the World Council of Optometry's vision of universal access to high-quality eye health and vision care.

Attendees can expect opportunities to connect with leading experts in the field and explore cutting-edge advancements in optometric practice. Through advocacy, education, policy development, and humanitarian outreach, the Congress’s presence at Optometry’s Meeting will empower optometrists to play a pivotal role in promoting eye health and vision care for all, fostering a world where everyone can enjoy the benefits of visual health. 

A Year of Action for Reimbursement and Coverage Fairness

Providing an update to the 2024 AOA House of Delegates on the AOA’s reimbursement and coverage fairness advocacy, AOA President Dr. Steven T. Reed recounted a year of action for optometry’s advocates.

In 2023, former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) official and anti-trust legal expert Gail Levine challenged delegates to bring forward specific data and personal experiences of how vision benefit managers (VBMs) present challenges to reimbursement and coverage fairness.

“I’m happy to report back that one year later, it is clear that every state and affiliate in our house has truly answered that call to action,” said Dr. Reed. “Where I’m from in Mississippi, we have a saying: ‘can’t never could,’” Dr. Reed said. “Basically, if you think you can’t you won’t be able to accomplish something, but if you think you can then you can succeed.”

Through powerful volunteer leadership, Dr. Reed said the association is ready to address and resolve issues that harm optometry practices.

Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety

David A. Cockrell, O.D., Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) chair, provided an update on the advocacy alliance during the second day of the AOA House of Delegates, noting a year of expanded partnerships and growth. In addition to acknowledging the ongoing partnership with industry supporters, Johnson & Johnson, CooperVision, EssilorLuxottica and the AOA, Dr. Cockrell noted expanded support on key advocacy issues in Washington, D.C., with partners including:

  • National Consumer League
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Southern Christian Leadership Global Policy Initiative
  • American Innovation and Opportunity Fund
  • Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association
  • The Hispanic Institute
  • Global Native United

Lastly, Dr. Cockrell noted the growth of individual doctors of optometry who directly support HCAPS. At Optometry’s Meeting, HCAPS added an additional 240 individually supporting doctors, representing 49 states, bringing the total number of individual supporters to 1,000-plus.

South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association

During the AOA House of Delegates, South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association (SCOPA) past president Jhondra McNeely, O.D., shared an update on a years-long legal challenge to the state’s Eye Care Consumer Protection Law (ECCPL).

On June 19, a South Carolina judge issued an order for summary judgement, effectively ruling that the state’s ECCPL was indeed constitutional despite a legal challenge from online eye screening test, Visibly (formerly known as Opternative).

South Carolina’s ECCPL, passed in 2016, ensures that technology and telehealth services enhance care, deliver the best outcomes and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship at the heart of sound health care decision-making. The ECCPL passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature only to receive a late veto from then-Gov. Nikki Haley that was itself overridden by the legislature.

Yet Visibly/Opternative filed a legal challenge that was initially dismissed in 2018 and then appealed. The June 19, 2024, ruling provides closure in this latest chapter.

"We received word that this law is indeed constitutional,” Dr. McNeely announced to applause. “Always keep advocating for your patients’ safety because that’s what we’re doing; stay strong with that.”

Optometry in Canada

Martin Spiro, president of the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), spoke to the House of Delegates on optometry in Canada. From modernizing vision care benefits plans and recognizing the essential role of optometrist to the CAO campaign aims to enhance the voices of optometrists, the association shared their commonalities with attendees.

Additionally, the CAO highlighted their optometry schools and the many students who receive their training in the U.S. They noted their efforts to ensure Canadian optometry students feel involved and part of their association.

Leadership Institute

Since 2021, about 300 doctors have graduated from the AOA Leadership Institute, supported by EssilorLuxottica and Johnson & Johnson. This year, 80 members of the institute’s 2024 class are attending Optometry’s Meeting over two days to network and to learn. The current class, which will graduate in the fall, also attended the AOA Leadership Exchange, which included a panel presented by Black EyeCare Perspectives.

The goal of the institute is to develop the potential of the next generation of optometric leaders. Applications are now being accepted for the next Leadership Institute and Leadership Institute 2.0.

“The AOA Leadership Institute gives our members the tools that they need and the confidence to step forward and lead and advance our profession today, tomorrow and into the future,” says Andrea Thau, O.D., chair of the AOA Leadership Development Committee, which founded the institute.

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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.

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