AOA calls research summit, leads effort to expand and promote optometric research

June 28, 2018
Research Summit to encourage optometric dialogue with key federal agencies.
Optometric Research Summit 2018

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

Today's facts were yesterday's research, and AOA has a vision for tomorrow that builds on both.

The 2018 AOA Optometric Research Summit—A Vision for the Future of Optometric Research, July 9-10, in Arlington, Virginia, will take a unique look at how optometric and vision research is changing, and how the optometric profession will address the future of vision research. The summit intends to bring together leadership from each school and college of optometry, in addition to representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and other entities, to evaluate the current infrastructure and status of optometric research, as well as foster collaborative discussions to promote the future of optometric research.

The AOA Optometric Research Summit, organized by the AOA Council on Research (COR), replaces the biennial AOA/AAO Summer Research Institute for 2018, but continues working toward seeing some of the institute's goals come to fruition. The summit will work to identify opportunities for growth by taking a historical look at past optometric research activities and updates from key funding agencies, says AOA COR Chair Heather Anderson, O.D., Ph.D.

By fostering collaborative discussions, the COR aims to facilitate the formation of goals and actionable items to ultimately:

  • Increase the number of doctors of optometry pursuing formal research training.
  • Increase the central resources available for the conduct of optometric research.
  • Facilitate the communication of current gaps in clinical knowledge to the researchers who can work to close them.
  • Improve dissemination of research findings in optometry's classrooms and clinics.
  • Increase understanding of the importance for optometry's continued presence in research endeavors.

"The future viability and scope of practice of optometry depends, in part, on our ability to advance knowledge through discovery and by incorporating the latest research advances into clinical practice," Dr. Anderson notes.

"Through the summit, we hope attendees will be able to identify important roles to assume in the process, whether it be attracting students into graduate education, communicating knowledge gaps to trained researchers, conducting research, or assisting in dissemination of findings to our students and practicing colleagues."

As in years prior, attendees will receive briefings and engage in a research-focused dialogue with officials from key federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute (NEI), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as with colleagues and leaders from across the country.

COR's commitment to optometric research

In remarks before the 121st AOA Congress at Optometry's Meeting® in Denver, Colorado, Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., AOA immediate past president, applauded COR's work coordinating researchers at schools and colleges of optometry.

"It's truly an exciting accomplishment to have this first-ever Council on Research summit for optometric research, as well as this opportunity to bring together all the schools and colleges of optometry to discuss the important fundamental principles of research as it affects optometry," Dr. Quinn remarked.

Established in 1986 to promote optometric research, COR strives to facilitate and assist in the coordination of optometric research, provide a central source of information relating to the profession, and help advocate for resources for optometric research, among other goals.

Under past leadership, the COR co-sponsored 15 Summer Research Institutes alongside AAO for the development of optometric expertise in clinical eye research. Many of these workshops spawned working groups that have designed clinical research questions in important clinical areas-including myopia, glaucoma, contact lenses, binocular vision and low vision-with the institute facilitating the generation of an estimated $78 million in optometric research funding under the past COR chair.

"It is the goal of the COR to continue building upon past efforts and, through this summit, foster a broader understanding of the importance that quality research continues to emerge from our profession, ultimately to better serve our patients," Dr. Anderson notes.

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