Retail optical lobbying group name change allays AOA, affiliate concerns

June 15, 2023
The “National Association of Optometrists and Opticians” moniker has been dropped and replaced with NAROC, the National Association of Retail Optical Companies.
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National and state optometric association leaders, long concerned about confusion being created in policy advocacy circles by a lobbying group comprised of major optical retailers, applauded a notable change in direction as the former “National Association of Optometrists and Opticians” announced it is now known as the National Association of Retail Optical Companies (NAROC).

NAROC describes itself as “a trade association for retail optical companies with co-located eye care services.” It does not claim to represent individual doctors of optometry or the optometric profession.

“The name change is an important one and we called for it in order to ensure that policymakers, the media and the public understand that our AOA and affiliates are the only representative voice for doctors of optometry,” AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., says. “The potential for confusion is all but eliminated as their new name makes clear who NAROC represents.” 

State association leaders and staff joined in recognizing how a period of lobbying confusion is now over and, while remaining vigilant, noted that even greater attention can be focused on optometry’s state and national advocacy priorities, including scope of practice expansion, crackdowns on the abusive policies of vision plans, delivering regulatory relief for practices and defeating organized medicine’s extremist “not-a-doctor” agenda

“The group’s new name describes exactly who they are and that’s a welcome change,” says Johndra Upton McNeely, O.D., past president of the South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association and current chair of the AOA State Government Relations Committee.

“I would continue to encourage our members to be diligent in educating their legislators on optometry and the scope of our education and to always be aware of positions staked out by other organizations, both allies and opponents,” Dr. McNeely says. “A strong and active doctor/legislator relationship is the foundation for our continued success in the advocacy arena.”

NAROC reported to the AOA that in May the organization officially called on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto the state “not-a-doctor” bill.

For more information on how to get involved in advocacy for optometry’s future and to support AOA and affiliate efforts to further expand optometry’s role in health care, please email Dr. Benner at president@aoa.org.

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