Summit heartens optometric research, elevates professional standard

July 19, 2018
Stakeholders align on strategies for bolstering optometric research.
Optometric Research Summit 2018

The 2018 AOA Optometric Research Summit took place July 9-10 in Arlington, Virginia.

The future is bright for optometric research after a meeting of the minds outlays a roadmap of new opportunities and approaches to advance research, and ultimately enhance patient care.

The 2018 AOA Optometric Research Summit-A Vision for the Future of Optometric Research, July 9-10, in Arlington, Virginia, brought the profession together to assess the current optometric research environment and chart strategies for engaging and encouraging more doctors of optometry to seek roles in the promotion of scientific research. Organized by the AOA Council on Research (COR), the summit underscores AOA's commitment to collaboratively align constituents on a common goal: fostering quality research that elevates patient care.

In setting the stage for the Optometric Research Summit, Samuel D. Pierce, O.D., AOA president, reiterated this need for continued fundamental vision research, and referenced the lack of substantial evidence behind flossing recommendations or biennial dental visits that are based solely on the dental profession's "best recommendation for health."

"Optometry needs to hold itself to the highest possible standard, and quality research provides that essential foundation for the profession to base the eye and vision care recommendations that we know will keep our patients healthy and happy," Dr. Pierce says. "This is why the summit is so important."

Together, with leadership from schools and colleges of optometry, representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and other entities, stakeholders in the Optometric Research Summit discussed items to include in setting a long-range plan into motion that seeks to broaden promotion of and participation in optometric research through academia, fellowships and other institutions, as well as to encourage more doctors of optometry to continue into a Ph.D. program.

Stakeholders also received briefings and engaged in a research-focused dialogue with officials from key federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as with colleagues and leaders from across the country.

Laying a foundation for the future

Heather Anderson, O.D., Ph.D., AOA COR chair, noted the summit provided a unique opportunity for thought-leaders in optometry to engage in an open dialogue about opportunities to promote research. While these conversations were merely a first step, she says, mutual interest in identifying individual organizational and institutional roles in that journey were abundant.

"Engaging in regular, intentional dialogue to evaluate our research infrastructure serves to keep our community keyed in to the necessary rigor of scientific discovery, remove barriers to increased pursuits, and foster a mutual understanding and value of the critical contributions made by the individuals engaged in optometric research," Dr. Anderson says. "In addition, it affords the opportunity to create new partnership within our profession, as stakeholders mutually recognize that the h2est motivation to generate quality research outcomes is ultimately to advance the clinical care of our patients."

Looking ahead, Dr. Anderson says the COR plans to synthesize products and feedback from the summit's dialogue to form specific short-term and long-term priorities, as well as identify areas where organizations within the profession can make new or renewed commitments.

She adds: "Attendees left the summit energized with a sense of mutual commitment to the continued success of research pursuits within the optometric profession."

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