Optometry’s Meeting® underway in Seattle

Optometry’s Meeting® underway in Seattle

Former Navy SEAL Robert J. O'Neill captivates the crowd during his keynote address.

A veritable cross-section of the profession, Optometry's Meeting® kicked off with an engaging journey through optometry's—and the AOA's—past, present and future.

"It's important for us to work together to continuously advocate for optometry and move our profession forward."

The 118th Annual AOA Congress & 44th Annual American Optometric Student Association Conference: Optometry's Meeting® officially began Wednesday in Seattle, Washington, with a look toward the future, a dose of contemporary education and a recognition of time-honored traditions.

Speaking of the future
When speaking of the future, it's not necessarily what's on the horizon, but what's just beyond that's hardest to fathom. And that's exactly the kind of telescopic view that three industry futurists provided in OD Talks: A Look Into the Future.  

The future is limitless, and so, too, are the confines of tomorrow's optometric practice, said Rob Foster, vice general manager of Topcon Eye Care Corporation. The rapid advancement of equipment, Internet-based tools, and health care reform could feasibly see ODs operating from an optometric "cockpit" or control room with patient information streaming right to doctors' fingertips.  

"If you're under 40 now, I have a single suggestion for you: Take flying lessons, because you'll be in that cockpit," Foster said.

David Friedfeld, president of ClearVision Optical, spoke to the rise in 3D 'printing'  technology and how the ability to print glasses—complete frames and lenses—will become commonplace in doctors' optical departments. And how just over the horizon is 3D printing of smart contact lenses or even fully functioning human eyes.

"(3D printing) will affect careers, the science of our business, our dispensary and our product; all of that is looming on the horizon, and it will be wise to understand this," Friedfeld said.

And wrapping up the conversation, Bryan Wolynski, O.D., a private practitioner with a low-vision emphasis in New York, discussed the impact wearable technology, such as smart glasses, is already having for blind or severely visually impaired patients.

"Wearable technology is creating independence," Dr. Wolynski said.

Expanded continuing education
Two innovative pharmacology CE courses—taught by Jimmy Bartlett, O.D., professor emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry—led off an expanded repertoire of education at Optometry's Meeting. In addition to three full days of CE, this year's conference maximizes time with courses beginning mid-day Wednesday and continuing through Sunday.

Read more about pharmaceutical use in the optometric practice with insight from Dr. Bartlett in the June 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

Opening reveille, fanfare
Although 'mapping the future' is the leitmotif of this year's conference, the Opening General Session alluded to the phrase, 'you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been.' 

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., the Opening General Session officially commenced the conference with the presentation of AOA awards, presented to AOA members who have distinguished themselves and the profession.

AOA President David A. Cockrell, O.D., opened the awards presentation ceremony by saying, "the heart of our profession is the health of our patients. They place the quality of their eye care for themselves and their family in our trust—a privilege and responsibility we all take very seriously. For the well-being of our patients and communities, it's important for us to work together to continuously advocate for optometry and move our profession forward."

Dr. Cockrell continued, "That is why I'm proud to acknowledge some exceptional people who go above and beyond for their patients and for optometry. Their dedication, knowledge and talents make our profession proud."

Click here to read more about the 2015 AOA award winners.

Former Navy SEAL Robert J. O'Neill delivered a keynote speech on leadership, decision making and how to become 'the best of the best,' reflecting on his mantra 'never quit' and his personal experience as having trained more than 800 special operations and tactical operators.

"Keep moving forward, never quit and you'll be just fine," O'Neill told attendees.

Connect with Optometry's Meeting daily
Couldn't make it to Seattle? Although there's no substitute for the real thing, you can catch a glimpse of Optometry's Meeting and stay engaged 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 #OM2015 on AOA's dedicated social media page.

June 25, 2015

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