Optometry’s Meeting® blasts off in Boston

Optometry’s Meeting® blasts off in Boston

“Optometry’s Meeting® is truly unique in its role as the place where the leadership of the profession comes together to chart our course for the future.”

AOA President, Steven A. Loomis, O.D., and former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Ph.D., captivate the crowd during Optometry's Meeting® Opening General Session.

The 2016 Optometry's Meeting® lifted off Wednesday, June 29, with an awards ceremony and a keynote address by astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

And those events were just part of the first day of the 119th Annual AOA Congress & 46th Annual American Optometric Student Association Conference: Optometry's Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. 

"Optometry's Meeting is truly unique in its role as the place where the leadership of the profession comes together to chart our course for the future," said Steven A. Loomis, O.D., 2015-2016 AOA president.

Out-of-this-universe opening
The event launched with the recipients of AOA's annual awards being recognized at the Opening General Session, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.

"The colleagues we honor this evening inspire all of us to do a little more, and to do it a little better," Dr. Loomis said. "They've demonstrated exceptional skills in caring for patients."

He added, "But they also have invested themselves in the lives of their families, their co-workers and their communities. And while doing that, they've also invested enormous amounts of their time and treasure into moving our profession forward. And for that we are proud of them and appreciative of them."

Read more about the 2016 AOA award winners.

Keynote speaker and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the first human beings to set foot on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969, shared his story with attendees and inspired them to "dream higher."

"I consider myself a global statesman for space and have been doing my best to move things forward," Aldrin said. "People ask me all the time: Why do we need to go to Mars? Or, why do we even need a space program? Because by venturing into space, we improve life for everyone here on Earth. The scientific advancements and innovations that come from space-based research create products and technology that we use in our daily lives."

Looking through a patient's eyes
Back by popular demand, this year's OD Talks, also held Wednesday, included presentations from patients who have overcome threats to their sight by using vision therapy, brain plasticity and echolocation.

Susan Barry, Ph.D., author of "Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions," spoke about her experience growing up with esotropia, which made learning to read difficult. As an adult, her doctor of optometry guided her through vision therapy, which taught her to coordinate her eyes and allowed her to see with stereopsis for the first time in her life.

Clark Elliott, Ph.D., author of "The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back," spoke about how he suffered a head injury and was told by doctors that he would never recover or improve. After eight years of sometimes being unable to read, to walk or to make decisions, he received neuro-optometric treatment based on brain-plasticity principles—and is fully recovered today.

And born with retinoblastoma, Daniel Kish, president of World Access for the Blind, had both of his eyes removed by the time he was 13 months old. Kish insists that "seeing happens in the brain, not the eyes." Today, he navigates his surroundings using echolocation, the technique that a bat uses to fly in the dark.

Can't-miss continuing education
More than 200 hours of continuing education, over the course of five days, will be offered during the conference. With expanded CE opportunities that began Wednesday and continue through Sunday, there's more than a little something for everyone, and every reason to arrive early and stay late for optometry's hallmark conference. Find a list of the offerings here.

Connect with Optometry's Meeting daily
Although there's no substitute for the real thing, you can follow Optometry's Meeting and keep up with the latest happenings via AOA's online coverage.

Visit aoa.org/news for daily news coverage and photos. And see all that's trending at #OM2016 on AOA's dedicated social media page.

June 30, 2016

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