Striking a chord: Optometry's premier event sees record attendance

June 26, 2024
Check out what you might have missed at Optometry's Meeting® 2024!
Optometry's Meeting Nashville, Tennessee, Live News Page

As the annual meeting of both the AOA and AOSA, Optometry's Meeting® unites the profession's leaders and future to advance optometry. Across four days of education and networking, association business and career development, Optometry's Meeting packs a lot into a short amount of time.

Reference the day-by-day keys below to see the headlines originating on that day, then click and read more to find the latest information coming out of Optometry's Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Stories by day

Wednesday, June 19
Wednesday, June 21, 2024

An immersive experience: Eye Care Square opens
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How optometrists can be allies
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Lawry encourages optometry to drive AI implementation
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Lawry offers 3 tips for 'AI superpowers’'
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Generative AI versus Predictive AI in health care
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Optometry’s Meeting opens with keynote address by AI expert Tom Lawry
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Generations of optometry celebrate, issue rallying cry
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Observing Juneteenth
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Welcome to Tennessee!
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Harmonizing Our Vision: Optometry’s Meeting® 2024 kicks off
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Thursday, June 20
Thursday, June 22, 2024

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXIII crowns a champion
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The next evolution of Eye Deserve More
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Announcing Myopia Collective Change Agents
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CIP Symposium orients future independent practitioners for success
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Alan Glazier, O.D., joins AOA Advocacy Awareness Network
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Paraoptometrics celebrate and collaborate
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AOA’s pediatric vision and eye health mobilization continues
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Key AOA events growing in strength, stature
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Hymes: AOA is the ‘go-to source for eye health information’
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Hymes: ‘Whatever it takes to stand for OD rights, fair treatment’
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AOA: Stronger alliances, partnerships in advocacy efforts
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AOA Executive Director Jon Hymes reports on strength of association
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The future of our profession
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Friday, June 21
Friday, June 23, 2024

A celebration of Optometry
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AOA Foundation recounts impactful year
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World Council of Optometry to Host 5th World Congress of Optometry in Partnership with AOA at Optometry's Meeting® 2025
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BREAKING: South Carolina court overrules Visibly challenge to eye care consumer protection law
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Putting VBM abuses under Congress’ microscope
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AOA keeping ‘scorecard’ of health, vision plan advocacy
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AOA marks year of VBM advocacy
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The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy
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AOA: Teaching leadership
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Optometry across the border
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Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety reports on expanding partnerships
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Saturday, June 22
Saturday, June 24, 2024

AOA Foundation 5K results
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Optometry's Meeting® 2024 ends on a high note
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Special resolution honors Robert C. Layman, O.D.
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House of Delegates elects new officers and trustees
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Steven T. Reed, O.D., inaugurated as 104th AOA president
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House of Delegates adopts resolutions
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Your Optometry's Meeting® 2024 news


AOA Foundation 5K results

AOA Foundation 5K results

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Over 160 racers—and 50 sleep-in participants—joined the AOA Foundation 5K on Saturday at the Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Area alongside the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville. The 5K, supported by Abbvie, Tarsus and the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, benefits AOA Foundation programs, such as InfantSEE®, Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief, Opportunities in Optometry grants, the Optometric Historical Society, student scholarships and more.

This year’s top female finishers include Vanessa Grichine, O.D. (overall); Charlotte Watt; Kimsean Tieu; Beth Salonia, O.D.; Becky Stephens; and Hilary Hawthorne, O.D.

This year’s male finishers include Nathan Morrow, O.D. (overall); Ben McCurdy; Alex Foree; Jeff Reising, O.D.; Andrew Adamich, O.D.; and Gilbert Ho.

Resources:
View the full AOA Foundation 5K race results.


Optometry's Meeting® 2024 ends on a high note

Optometry's Meeting® 2024 ends on a high note

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Music City struck a chord with the profession. Nearly 4,700 attendees convened June 19-22 for the 127th Annual AOA Congress & 56th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting®. And with 159 exhibitors, and a sold-out exhibit hall floor, this year’s event marked the largest gathering of AOA doctors since 2018. Check out all the highlights by following Optometry’s Meeting on Facebook and the official hashtag, #optometrysmeeting, on the meeting’s dedicated live-running social wall.

Save the date for Optometry's Meeting 2025, June 25-28, 2025, in Minneapolis, Minnesota! The profession’s premier meeting will host the 5th World Congress of Optometry, in partnership with the World Council of Optometry (WCO). This globally minded event will focus on advancing universal access to high-quality eye health and vision care, as well as an industry-leading conversation on technological advancements in the eye health care industry.

Sign up for an early registration alert.

Special resolution honors Dr. Layman

'What more can I do?' Special resolution honors Robert C. Layman, O.D.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Before the House of Delegates adjourned, a special resolution was brought forth. The resolution noted the extended service of Robert C. Layman, O.D., on the AOA Board of Trustees. “Robert C. Layman, O.D., of Ohio, has conducted and completed the duties of the office of Immediate Past President of the American Optometric Association (AOA) with the heart of a servant leader and the passion of a life-long health care provider and advocate, and  has dedicated his life to inspiring and driving the profession of optometry, all while responding to every need “What more can I do?”” it reads. It expressed gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Layman, his family and the patients he and his practices serve. Dr. Layman’s children were in attendance and shared warm words about their father.  

House of Delegates elects new officers and trustees

House of Delegates elects new officers and trustees

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Installed on the AOA Board of Trustees on the final day of Optometry’s Meeting 2024 was Steven T. Reed, O.D., (Mississippi) as president; Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., (Colorado) as president-elect; Teri K. Geist, O.D., (Nebraska) as vice president; Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S., (Ohio) as secretary-treasurer; William T. Reynolds, O.D., (Kentucky), serving as past president; Paul M. Barney, O.D., (Alaska), reelected trustee; Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D., (Florida) reelected trustee; and Karoline K. Munson, O.D., (Kentucky), newly elected trustee.

Continuing their terms are Curtis A. Ono, O.D., (Washington), Belinda R. Starkey, O.D., (Arkansas), and Marrie S. Read, O.D., MBA, (Armed Forces and Federal Optometric Services).

Resources:Read about AOA’s officers and trustees

Steven T. Reed, O.D., inaugurated as 104th AOA president

Steven T. Reed, O.D., inaugurated as 104th AOA president

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi, was inaugurated as the 104th AOA president during Saturday’s AOA House of Delegates. In his inaugural address, Dr. Reed delivered a message about professional leadership and emphasized the need for delegates in the House to have a growth mindset in their own leadership. “You, the leaders of our profession, represent the 1% of optometry,” Dr. Reed said. “There’s a lot of responsibility and challenge in that.”

Dr. Reed added: “So today, I’m not going to talk about our priority issues like children’s vision, vision plans or scope advocacy, because none of that is possible without effective leadership.”

Toward that point, Dr. Reed highlighted three leadership takeaways based on three different definitions of "leadership," including:

1) To take someone somewhere by going with them.

2) The act of showing a person or group of people what to do.
3) To guide someone or something along the way.

“To take, to act and to guide,” Dr. Reed said. “That’s what I want us to focus on and why I speak about leadership to you today. My promise to you is that I will continue to do all these things that I’ve talked about today.”

House of Delegates adopts resolutions

House of Delegates adopts resolutions

Saturday, June 22, 2024

The AOA House of Delegates passed four measures on its final day. Three existing resolutions were revised: (1) mobilization for complete pediatric eye exams. (2) Eye Deserve More awareness. (3) reports to be published must be sanctioned and approved by the House of Delegates or Board of Trustees. One new resolution was passed on vision plan advocacy.

Read the full resolutions submitted to the House of Delegates.

A celebration of Optometry

A celebration of Optometry

Friday, June 21, 2024

The Music City lived up to its reputation on Friday at the Celebration of Optometry, an enjoyable and relaxing evening of networking with old and new connections made during three days of continuing education, industry exhibits and association business. The event, supported by Bausch + Lomb, brings together doctors of optometry, students, paraoptometrics and industry for a night of live entertainment, regional fare and networking at a downtown venue.

Follow the excitement on social media.

AOA Foundation recounts impactful year

AOA Foundation recounts impactful year

Friday, June 21, 2024

The AOA Foundation oversees and administers more than seven different programs, engaging every affiliate, school of optometry and community across the country through at least one of these initiatives. AOA Trustee and AOA Foundation President Belinda R. Starkey, O.D., told the House of Delegates about the foundation's impact to date:

- InfantSEE will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. Since 2005, tens of thousands of doctors nationwide have conducted nearly 200,000 assessments.

- Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief has provided nearly $1.5 million to over 750 doctors. Just this year, 200 doctors were assisted with financial grants.

- The Opportunities in Optometry program has granted over 70 financial scholarships since 2021.

- The Golden Opportunity Award granted up to three deserving optometrists $50,000 each to help them achieve their dream of owning an independent practice. This award focuses on individuals from underrepresented groups or those aiming to serve underserved areas, and was awarded to Rebecca Chown, O.D., of Oregon, Alyssa Putman, O.D., of New York, and Melissa Macco, O.D., of Nevada. The award honors David Golden, O.D., co-founder of the Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative Alliance who passed away in 2021 and was dedicated to helping others succeed, particularly small-business owners. To continue his legacy, the Golden Opportunity Award (PERC), a joint initiative between The AOA Foundation and PERC Alliance, was created.

World Council of Optometry to Host 5th World Congress of Optometry in Partnership with AOA at Optometry's Meeting® 2025

World Council of Optometry to Host 5th World Congress of Optometry in Partnership with AOA at Optometry's Meeting® 2025

Friday, June 21, 2024

It will be a full house at the 128th Annual AOA Congress & 57th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® 2025. Today, it was formally announced that the World Council of Optometry (WCO) will host its 5th World Congress of Optometry at Optometry’s Meeting June 25-28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “We look forward to working together with AOA and AOSA to make the 5th World Congress of Optometry one that will deliver great insight and education to help strengthen the profession globally,” WCO President Sandra Block, O.D., said this spring. The mission of the WCO, an international organization, is “to facilitate the development of optometry around the world and support optometrists in promoting eye health and vision care as a human right through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach.” Aside from advocacy, a number of WCO initiatives dovetail with the AOA’s including development of standards of care for presbyopia and myopia. “We truly have a shared vision together,” said AOA Trustee Curtis A. Ono, O.D., during today's announcement.

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Future Optometry’s Meeting locations

Learn More

BREAKING: South Carolina court overrules Visibly challenge to eye care consumer protection law

BREAKING: South Carolina court overrules Visibly challenge to eye care consumer protection law

Friday, June 21, 2024

Moments after AOA President Steven T. Reed, O.D., and AOA Trustee Paul M. Barney, O.D., recognized the 2024 AOA Advocacy Awardees, South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association (SCOPA) past president Johndra McNeely, O.D., approached the podium of the AOA House of Delegates with late-breaking news 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.”

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Read more: South Carolina legislators override veto, safeguard patients’ vision health

The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy

Putting VBM abuses under Congress’ microscope

Friday, June 21, 2024

The “real challenge” ahead is shepherding Congress’ attention for ensuring that the voice of patients and doctors is heard, Dr. Reed said, continuing: “This message is getting through in the halls of Congress and how we are amplifying the patients’ voice in our advocacy efforts.” Only days after VBMs headlined the Patients Rising fly-in day, with patient advocates championing the issue on Capitol Hill, Dr. Reed announced that these issues are falling under Congress’ microscope in a meaningful way. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently seeking information on how consolidation in health care is impacting competition, and Dr. Reed challenged delegates to share their own experiences regarding how vision plan acquisitions and policies are impacting competition within the industry.

Moreover, the DOJ request comes with a pair of ongoing federal probes launched within the past year, including:

- A Government Accountability Office investigation, spurred by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., influential lawmakers who chair a U.S. House committee and subcommittee, respectively, with direct jurisdiction over health care issues, into VBM consolidation, market concentration and the impact on patients.

- A request for information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at the direction of U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer, R-Ky., on the agency’s role in preventing unfair and harmful practices in the vision marketplace.

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Read more: ‘All the advocacy firepower’ called up at AOA on Capitol Hill

Resources: DOC Access Act fact sheet

The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy

AOA keeping ‘scorecard’ of health, vision plan advocacy

Friday, June 21, 2024

"We aren’t afraid to keep a scorecard of our efforts,” Dr. Reed told delegates in referencing the daily AOA Health and Vision Plan Action Report published in members’ First Look briefing email. Published nearly 300 times over the past year, the report details doctors’ plan challenges nationwide and how the AOA has intervened on members’ behalf. The report has included issues ranging from:

- Credentialing challenges
- Consultation requirements for prescribing certain drugs
- Automated downcoding
- Risk-adjustment records requests

“We are fully committed to assisting each and every one of you to address these frustrations in practice that frankly just waste too much time and money,” Dr. Reed said.

Optometry practices facing such challenges can report these to stopplanabuses@aoa.org.

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Resources:AOA Health and Vision Plan Action Report

The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy

AOA marks year of VBM advocacy

Friday, June 21, 2024

The AOA started 2024 promptly with a landmark, profession-wide townhall to update optometry on the AOA’s efforts to address health and vision plan abuses, and discuss the anti-patient, anti-doctor and anti-competitive practices often employed by plans. “The approaches that some plans use are a threat to practices and the delivery of quality eye health in America,” Dr. Reed told delegates. The AOA committed to addressing these challenges by:

- Consideration of anti-trust violations
- Addressing serious valuation of care concerns and ensuring that every state vision plan law is adhered to appropriately

But Dr. Reed noted the toll of smaller-scale issues, such as credentialing delays, claims denials and audit frustrations that impact optometry practices nationwide.

“We have directed our staff to do everything they can to address and resolve the smaller challenging issues with health and vision plans,” Dr. Reed said.

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Read More:AOA on Capitol Hill hosts VBM, PBM panel discussion


The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy

The 'Can't Never Could' of reimbursement, coverage fairness advocacy

Friday, June 21, 2024

In 2023, former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) official and anti-trust legal expert Gail Levine challenged delegates at that year’s AOA House of Delegates to bring forward specific data and personal experiences of how vision benefit managers (VBMs) present challenges to reimbursement and coverage fairness. "She said it simply: If you see something, say something,” AOA President Steven T. Reed, O.D., told delegates in Nashville. “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.” In providing an update to the 2024 AOA House of Delegates on the AOA’s reimbursement and coverage fairness advocacy, Dr. Reed recounted a year of action for optometry’s advocates.

“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 this organization is ready to address and resolve issues that harm optometry practices.

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Read More:Oklahoma secures optometry’s latest win over vision plan abuses.


AOA: Teaching leadership

AOA: Teaching leadership

Friday, June 21, 2024

An impressive number of doctors of optometry—about 300 savvy doctors so far—have graduated from the AOA Leadership Institute since it launched in 2021. About 80 members of the institute’s 2024 class are attending Optometry’s Meeting 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 Perspective. The goal of the institute: developing the potential of the next generation of optometric leaders. Want to make a difference by advocating for the profession, whether on the community, state or national levels? Applications are now being accepted for the next Leadership Institute and Leadership Institute 2.0. The institute is supported by EssilorLuxottica and Johnson & Johnson. “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.

Watch the AOA Leadership Institute graduates share their takeaways.

Resource: Applications are due Nov. 15. Apply here.


Optometry across the border

Optometry across the border

Friday, June 21, 2024

Martin Spiro, president of the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), spoke to the House of Delegates on optometry in Canada. Updates included:

- Advocacy efforts – Modernizing vision care benefits plans and recognizing the essential role of optometrists.

- Public awareness – the CAO campaign aims to enhance the voices of optometrists.

- Supporting the future – There are just two optometry schools in Canada, and many students receive their training in the U.S. The CAO works to ensure Canadian optometry students feel involved and part of their association.

- Championing beneficial technology into optometric practice.

Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety reports on expanding partnerships

Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety reports on expanding partnerships

Friday, June 21, 2024

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., 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.

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Read more: Constant presence: Alliance builds reputation for patient safety advocacy

Read more:Contact lens safety legislation proposes banning robocalls

The next evolution of Eye Deserve More

The next evolution of Eye Deserve More

Thursday, June 20, 2024

AOA Trustee Belinda R. Starkey, O.D., shared with the House of Delegates highlights on the AOA’s national public awareness campaign, Eye Deserve More. From educating workers about the impacts of excessive screen time to establishing doctors of optometry as eye experts amid the solar eclipse, the campaign continues to engage with Americans across demographics, with creative outreach and insightful audience segments. Dr. Starkey announced the next evolution of the campaign in 2024 will focus on technology. “How can we get people to stay up to date about their eye health, the same way they stay up to date on the latest tech?” Slated for an August launch, the campaign will position the eyes as the world’s most advanced technology.

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Read more

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXIII crowns a champion

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXIII crowns a champion

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tyson Montgomery of The Ohio State University College of Optometry took 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. Michigan College of Optometry received the competition’s Spirit Award.



Announcing Myopia Collective Change Agents

Announcing Myopia Collective Change Agents

Thursday, June 20, 2024

When the AOA and CooperVision launched the Myopia Collective in April, it announced that it would be enlisting doctors of optometry as “Change Agents” to lead the charge to elevate the standard of care for children with myopia. Following an application period, those Change Agents were unveiled at Optometry’s Meeting. There are 68 agents in all, representing each U.S. state. Some more populous states had more than one including California, Florida, Illinois and Texas. “Change Agents will be the driving force behind The Myopia Collective, receiving specialized training in myopia management and leading legislative and advocacy initiatives in their communities,” said Michele Andrews, O.D., vice president, marketing and professional affairs, Americas, CooperVision. Change Agents will get to work in September with a workshop in Chicago. Says AOA President Steven T. Reed, O.D.: “The training provided to the Change Agents will empower them to lead the charge in their communities and make significant differences in the lives of children with myopia. Change Agents are just one part of this pivotal initiative, with the other being the entire U.S. optometry community. We invite everyone to become members of The Myopia Collective, symbolizing a unified dedication to advancing myopia management across the profession.”

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Resources:

See a list of the Myopia Collective’s Change Agents

Become a member of the Myopia Collective

CIP Symposium orients future independent practitioners for success

CIP Symposium orients future independent practitioners for success

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP) Symposium offered an opportunity for students and doctors to connect with other independent practitioners, as well as learn valuable lessons from business experts. Supported by Williams Group, the symposium was held in conjunction with AOA+ Pop-ups on Thursday with students and new doctors attending a full slate of relatable, actionable courses on getting started in optometry. With courses ranging from, “The Journey to Independent Practice,” to “Money! How to Overcome Debt and Leverage it to Achieve Your Practice Dreams” and “Things I Wish I knew: Secrets to Success and Happiness in Independent Practice,” attendees were able to ask questions of seasoned independent practitioners and business experts.

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Read more: Next-gen optometry’s focus on independent practice

Alan Glazier, O.D., joins AOA Advocacy Awareness Network

Alan Glazier, O.D., joins AOA Advocacy Awareness Network

Thursday, June 20, 2024

In today’s environment of dynamic media and multiple points of connection, it is critical to get important and timely information into the hands of doctors and the optometry community at large. The AOA Advocacy Awareness Network is a foundational collective of influential experts in optometry who collaborate to further the profession and break through the media noise to connect with doctors of optometry. Joining the network is Alan Glazier, O.D., pioneering social media influencer, founder of FluoreSCENE Media and ODs on Facebook. The AOA believes in the power of communications to help achieve the common goal to advance the profession of optometry and America’s eye health and vision. Dr. Glazier discussed leadership, AOA priorities and the AOA Advocacy Awareness Network during a live podcast on the EYETalks Stage today at Optometry’s Meeting.


AOA Paraoptometric Awards: Savanna Johnson, CPOA

Paraoptometrics celebrate and collaborate

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Two events brought together paraoptometric attendees at Optometry's Meeting®. The Paraoptometric Awards Luncheon Celebration, supported by Alcon, is the annual celebration of AOA associate-member paraoptometrics, honored for their outstanding and significant contributions to the profession. Recognized were this year's Paraoptometric Award winners: Savanna Johnson, CPOA, Paraoptometric of the Year; Sally Greeley, CPOT, Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement Award winner; and Shelby Miller, CPO, Paraoptometric Community Service Award winner. Following the celebration was the Paraoptometric Idea Exchange, where attendees networked and discuss practice challenges and opportunities and generated ideas on how to grow AOA associate membership.

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Related stories: Annual American Optometric Association Award Winners

pediatric vision and eye health mobilization continues: Dr. Ono

AOA’s pediatric vision and eye health mobilization continues

Thursday, June 20, 2024

At Optometry’s Meeting ® 2023, the AOA announced a call for the national pediatric vision and eye health mobilization, an initiative focused on closing the gap in care created by access disparities and hastened by the consequences of accelerated screen time usage during the pandemic. AOA Trustee Curtis A. Ono, O.D., provided the House of Delegates with an update. “Since Optometry’s Meeting 2023, the AOA Board has set out to collect information and guidance from children’s vision experts from across the country—listening to leaders both in and outside of optometry and listening to each of you,” Dr. Ono said. That research and feedback has driven the following actions:

- With AOA’s support, the Early Detection of Vision Impairments in Children Act was introduced in May. This legislation would improve the vision and eye health of children across the U.S. by providing resources to states and communities to establish or improve systems of care for children’s vision.

- The Myopia Collective, powered by AOA and CooperVision, is a new initiative aimed at rallying the profession of optometry and its allies to set a new standard of care for children with myopia.

Dr. Ono acknowledged there is still much work to be done to ensure children have access to the care they need. He urged doctors of optometry to join InfantSEE®, an initiative of the AOA Foundation. InfantSEE providers offer no-cost, comprehensive eye assessments to infants between the ages of 6-12 months regardless of family income or access to insurance coverage.

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Related stories: AOA sees positives in federal children’s eye health legislation Participate in a 2024 SGRC Regional Advocacy Meeting

AOA, CooperVision mobilize to ‘disrupt the status quo,’ advance new standard of care for children with myopia

About InfantSEE

AOA Events Grow: Jon Hymes

Key AOA events growing in strength, stature

Thursday, June 20, 2024

In addition to recognizing a crucial expansion in AOA-affiliate partnerships that has led to widespread membership growth and support, Hymes called attention to growth in key AOA membership events, including Optometry’s Meeting and AOA on Capitol Hill. “Mirroring these organizational gains is the growth of this flagship gathering of the profession’s leaders: Optometry’s Meeting,” Hymes said, emphasizing the Nashville meeting as being the largest gathering of AOA doctors since 2018 with over 4,400 attendees and counting. Likewise, Hymes noted the participation of 42 affiliates in at least one of the three State Government Relations Committee Regional Advocacy Conferences in 2023 and 48 affiliates sending doctor representatives to AOA on Capitol Hill, the AOA’s largest federal advocacy event. “Our members can be assured at every step of their membership journey that they are being served by one team,” Hymes said.

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Resources:Participate in a 2024 SGRC Regional Advocacy Meeting

Read More:‘All the advocacy firepower’ called up at AOA on Capitol Hill


AOA is Go-To Source: Jon Hymes

Hymes: AOA is the ‘go-to source for eye health information’

Thursday, June 20, 2024

“From this year’s memorable eclipse to back-to-school vision, the AOA is the go-to source for eye health information built around the expertise of doctors of optometry,” Hymes said. The AOA’s media advocacy featured a headline-generating report on the cost of excessive workplace screentime and correcting a biased portrayal of optometrists in a 2023 TODAY show segment.

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Read more: “The Impact of Unmanaged Excessive Screen Time in the U.S.”

Read more: AOA challenges baseless attacks, mischaracterizations of optometric care


Take a stand: Jon Hymes

Hymes: ‘Whatever it takes to stand for OD rights, fair treatment’

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Legislative and media advocacy are two facets of the AOA’s fight for optometry, and Hymes noted, “We’ve made clear over the last year that we’ll do whatever it takes to always stand up for OD rights and fair treatment.” In citing the AOA’s concerted, tenacious vision plan advocacy, Hymes shared the success of the AOA’s Health and Vision Plan Action Report in doctors’ daily First Look emails. The report keeps a running tally of member-reported challenges and complaints with health and vision plans, as well as the steps AOA advocates are taking to resolve these issues on members’ behalf. “Rave reviews from doctors and complaints from some plans that they’re being picked on,” Hymes said. He continued by citing policy advocacy successes in the past year, including:

- 10 states defeating so-called ‘not-a-doctor' legislation.

- 12 states recognizing optometry’s authority to provide laser procedures with South Dakota becoming the latest state.

- 5 states enacting tough laws reigning back vision benefit managers (VBMs), including Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Georgia and Oklahoma.

- 2 congressional panels actively investigating VBM abuses.

- Record-high congressional support of the DOC Access Act.

- Gaining momentum in the fight for VA optometry’s pay and full recognition despite vocal opposition from an ophthalmologist congresswoman.

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Read more: AOA Federal Advocacy updates
Read more: AOA State Advocacy updates


Professional Alliances and Partnerships: Jon Hymes

AOA: Stronger alliances, partnerships in advocacy efforts

Thursday, June 20, 2024

In continuing his executive director’s report to the AOA House of Delegates, Hymes lauded the growing strength and expansion of partnerships with other national organizations when it comes to the AOA’s advocacy. Hymes noted expanded work with the American Dental Association (ADA), long a partner in building support for the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act, recently filing a U.S. Supreme Court brief seeking to block vision and dental plans from issuing the ERISA statute to avoid compliance at a state level. Additionally, he shared partnerships and alliances, including:

- Patients Rising, a national patient advocacy group, featured the DOC Access Act as a top priority in their recent Capitol Hill fly-in.

- AMVETS, a well-recognized Veterans Service Organization, joined the call for full recognition of optometric scope in the VA health system.

- National Consumers League, the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy group, supports AOA efforts to crack down on plan abuses and federal legislation to ban “robocalls” in the contact lens marketplace.

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Resources: Dental and Optometric Care Access Act fact sheet


The strength of the profession: Jon Hymes

AOA Executive Director Jon Hymes reports on strength of association

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"Strong and getting stronger” is how AOA Executive Director Jon Hymes characterizes the state of the AOA’s federation in remarks before the AOA House of Delegates on Thursday. “We are growing in size, clout and effectiveness and are well prepared to continue to do all that it takes to safeguard optometry’s essential and expanding role in health care and support the practice success of our doctors,” Hymes told delegates. He cited the strength of AOA’s brand recognition and membership, including:

- 93% membership retention rate with an ever-growing market share in the profession, as well as 300 AOA volunteers—the largest ever cadre of optometric leaders.

- Over 300 new doctors joined via the aoa.org online join portal, a higher number in just six months as compared with all of last year.

- 75% of Americans indicate trust in an AOA-member doctor of optometry, a finding from a recent survey indicating the AOA’s brand is stronger than ever.

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Resources: Join the AOA


The future of the profession: Report from Derek Bryant, American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) president

The future of our profession

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Derek Bryant, American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) president, representing 7,000 optometric students, had an ask for House of Delegates participants: serve as mentors and help students shape the future. “I stand within the presence of giants within our profession,” Bryant said. “The foundation you have built is one we will continue to build upon.” He provided updates from the AOSA, which has a sharp focus on advocacy in 2024. Students are learning the importance of "everyday advocacy,” making sure everyone—patients, policymakers and the general public—knows that optometrists are optometric physicians who are skilled and prepared to provide exceptional care as they do now. In closing, Bryant presented the 2024 AOSA Student of the Year Award to Maggie Dunn of The Ohio State University College of Optometry.

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Related story:Annual American Optometric Association Award Winners


Optometrists can be Allies

How optometrists can be allies

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

In an engaging session led by Janette Pepper O.D., and Essence Johnson, O.D., attendees learn to identify their privileges and become effective allies and catalysts for change in their practices, the eye care industry and beyond. "Allyship involves not only understanding and acknowledging one's own privilege, but also taking tangible actions to challenge and change the status quo for the betterment of all. It's a fundamental aspect of creating positive change, not only in one's personal life but also in professional settings, industries and society at large," said Dr. Johnson.




Optometry's Meeting Eye Care Square Opens

An immersive experience: Eye Care Square opens

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Led by a parade of impersonators—Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks—Eye Care Square opened Wednesday evening with a reception to great musical fanfare, as attendees streamed into the space. “To bring you down, I invited a few of my closest Nashville friends to lead the way to tonight’s reception,” AOA President Steven T. Reed, O.D., said. Nearly 160 exhibits were signed up, numbers not seen since before the COVID-19 outbreak. The immersive experience showcases the latest products and solutions. New this year, Eye Care Square will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Visit the Education Theater or the EYETalks Stage to catch and earn CE during a hot-topic discussion. Learn about innovative products during an industry session. Connect with leaders and organizations about career opportunities and additional paths to consider in the optometry industry at the Residency Summit on Friday, June 21, from 1-2:30 p.m. and the Career Fair from 1-4 p.m.

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Resources: See a floorplan of Eye Care Square and the exhibits


Tom Lawry: Optometry to drive AI Implementation

Lawry encourages optometry to drive AI implementation

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

As experts worldwide discuss the challenges and opportunities to closing the gap between lifespan and health-span (the point at which people’s health starts failing), Lawry noted optometry’s profound contribution in this regard. “When I think about what it is you do, and I’ve worked with many specialties, I believe you are one of the most important [providers] when it comes to impacting people on this planet,” Lawry said. As leaders in the field of eye health and vision care, optometry should be at the forefront in dictating AI’s involvement in eye care. “If you understand AI, where it’s coming, where it’s going, what it can do, then you’re the smartest, most qualified people to take that into eye care and drive the change at scale,” Lawry concluded. “It’s in your hands and there’s no one smarter and more qualified than you; wherever it's going, you are the ones that are the best people to have your hands on the steering wheel.”


Tom Lawry: AI Superpowers

Lawry offers 3 tips for 'AI superpowers’'

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Fifteen years’ experience working alongside AI-adopting companies taught Lawry three lessons for finding success with AI implementation. First, understand what AI can do and don’t worry so much with how it works; for example, do you understand how a smartphone app works? “No, you figure out what it can do to save you time, add value, and you do it,” Lawry said. Second, understand what AI is good at and what it’s not. Lawry suggested AI’s capabilities in automating processes and simple decision-making, freeing up time for clinicians to care for patients. Third, practice responsible AI. Lawry noted AI’s tendency to incorporate bias into its algorithm and it’s up to thought-leaders to put a halt to that. “I believe we can use AI to lower disparities in the real world and it starts here with leadership like you in your profession,” Lawry said.


Tom Lawry: Generative vs. Predictive AI

Generative AI versus Predictive AI in health care

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Lawry emphasized the differences between ‘predictive AI’ and ‘generative AI,’ the latter being a media darling grabbing recent headlines while the former has been used by medicine for over two decades. Predictive AI’s utility in assessing patients’ medical outcomes and risk, as well as patient flow, differs from that of generative AI, known for creating text, images or videos. Yet, Lawry demonstrated generative AI’s capabilities by asking AI to rewrite the AOA Evidence-based Optometry Committee’s Clinical Report: Myopia Management into a patient handout, written at an easily digestible fourth-grade reading level. “This opens the door to a lot of possibilities for health care providers,” Lawry said. “It gets us to the point of thinking: how do I do work differently?”

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Resources: AOA Clinical Report: Myopia Management See a floorplan of Eye Care Square and the exhibits

Tom Lawry Optometry's Meeting Keynote: AI

Optometry’s Meeting opens with keynote address by AI expert Tom Lawry

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Leading artificial intelligence (AI) transformation advisor Tom Lawry kicked off Optometry’s Meeting with a message about AI and the evolving impact on optometry. A former Microsoft executive who served as National Director for AI for Health and Life Sciences, Lawry has been named one of the most recognized leaders driving change and engagement in health care today, as well as one of the Top 20 AI Voices to Watch in 2023. “The theme of this talk is how AI is set to become an important health care tool, not a threat," Lawry says. “It’s an opportunity.”


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Related story: Leading AI authority Tom Lawry to keynote Optometry’s Meeting® 


Optometry Issues Rallying Cry - Dr. Reed

Generations of optometry celebrate, issue rallying cry

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Advocacy took center stage during the opening general session at Optometry’s Meeting 2024. AOA President Steven T. Reed, O.D., celebrated successes of the past year:

- 24/7/365 advocacy for coverage and reimbursement fairness, resulting in more than 10,000 meetings and other interactions with policymakers

- A more than 230% increase in the number of doctors in states with advanced laser procedures since 2017

- More than 600,000 patients actively seeking AOA doctors on aoa.org as a result of our public awareness campaign, Eye Deserve More

“This is what I know will be a powerful week, filled with world-class continuing education, opportunities to connect with colleagues, conduct the business of our association, and re-energize ourselves for the work we want to accomplish together,” Dr. Reed said. American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) President Derek Bryant said AOSA’s mission drives its members: empowering students to thrive as doctors of optometry. Among the ways to do that is "everyday advocacy,” he said. Making sure everyone—whether it's patients, policymakers or the general public—knows that optometrists are optometric physicians, who are skilled and prepared to provide exceptional care as they do now. Doctors of optometry provide the majority of eye care in U.S. “It’s about spreading the word that we are here to make a difference, and we are trained to handle a wide range of procedures and treatments that benefit our patients immensely,” he said.

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Related story: Oklahoma secures optometry’s latest win over vision plan abuse

Observing Juneteenth at Optometry's Meeting

Observing Juneteenth

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

AOA observed Juneteenth, a federal holiday, at Optometry’s Meeting. Marking the occasion at the meeting were Brian Knight, O.D., and Edward L. Jones, O.D.

Said Dr. Knight: “As we gather on this significant day, June 19, we also commemorate Juneteenth—a day of profound importance in American history. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States and serves as a reminder of the resilience, strength and spirit of African Americans. It is a day of reflection, celebration, and commitment to the ongoing journey toward equality and justice.” Added Dr. Jones, immediate past president of the National Optometric Association (NOA): “In the spirit of Juneteenth, we the NOA, (NOSA) and AOA, (AOSA), embrace the themes of liberation and progress that are relevant to our nation's history and our profession. As optometrists, we have the unique opportunity to transform lives through vision care, enhancing the clarity our patients see the world and their potential within it.”

Learn about AOA’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Welcome to Tennessee - Opening Session

Welcome to Tennessee!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A high-energy kickoff on Wednesday marked the opening of the 127th Annual AOA Congress and 56th Annual AOSA Conference Optometry’s Meeting® 2024—which is expected to attract over 4,500 doctors of optometry, optometry students, paraoptometric staff and industry supporters. Laura Sechler, O.D., president of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, welcomed the gathering. Said Dr. Sechler: “Just as Tennessee and Nashville are beacons for artists and dreamers, we are the guiding lights for our patients' eye health. Each eye exam we conduct, each diagnosis we make, and each treatment we prescribe is a step toward a clearer, brighter future for those we serve. So, welcome once again to Tennessee, where the music is always playing, the food is always delicious, and our hospitality is always as warm as a summer’s day. We hope your stay is filled with insightful discussions, eye-opening experiences, and perhaps a little bit of country music!”

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Nashville skyline

Harmonizing Our Vision: Optometry’s Meeting® 2024 kicks off

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Mirroring the AOA's gains in membership and policymaking and media advocacy clout in support of optometry practices nationwide, more than 4,500 doctors, students, paraoptometric staff and industry supporters are gathering in Nashville for Optometry’s Meeting 2024. The annual four-day education, governance and networking conference focuses on optometry’s essential and expanding role in health care and is the largest gathering of AOA doctors since 2018. Stay in the know by following Optometry’s Meeting on Facebook and watch for daily news updates from the profession’s premier meeting, posted at aoa.org/news. Get the latest by following the official hashtag, #optometrysmeeting, on the meeting’s dedicated live-running social wall.



Want early access to registration for Optometry's Meeting in Minneapolis?

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Discover Music City

Music City will host this year's Optometry’s Meeting®, June 19-22. With all the profession’s premier event has to offer, there’s no need to leave the convention center. But in the host city of Nashville, Tennessee, there is no shortage of things to see, eat and experience. Find out what the locals recommend.

What to know ahead of potentially dangerous hurricane season

If and when disaster strikes, the AOA Foundation’s Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief is here to help ease the burden for doctors of optometry and students.

Fixin’ for a grand ole show at Optometry’s Meeting

Get your dancing shoes on and bring your country-style shake to Optometry’s Meeting®, June 19-22, in Nashville, Tennessee. We’ve got a few reasons why Music City is the place for you to be this summer!