The inaugural AOA+, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision, AOAExcel® and Essilor, united more than 2,300 students and new doctors in Washington, D.C., for a distinctive primer in professional advocacy with real-world career readiness pearls from AOA members, networking and mentoring opportunities, and financial planning advice to support optometry's future.
AOA+ opened with fanfare Wednesday, June 21, during a stirring rally on Capitol Hill. Providing a background to AOA's weeklong advocacy efforts as part of AOA on Capitol Hill 2017, the rally primed dialogue surrounding optometry's priority federal issues amid ongoing debate about health care reform.
The 2017 Optometry's Meeting opened with a splash on Wednesday evening with a celebratory awards ceremony and an inspiring keynote address by Olympic swimming champion Dara Torres. Awards were presented to:
During her inspirational remarks at the Opening General Session, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision, Torres attributed her 12 Olympic medals to her ability to shut out the pressure, her competitiveness and her preparation. At the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Torres became the oldest swimmer, at age 41, to compete in the Games, taking home three silver medals. After her final Olympics swim, when asked what she would tell her daughter about her career, Torres said, "Not to put an age limit on your dreams."
Inspired by the popular TED Talks, this year's OD Talks presentations focused on how new, non-optometric technologies are impacting optometry and its patients. Three fascinating speakers demonstrated how virtual and augmented reality will impact optometry and our patients.
James Blaha, CEO and Founder of Vivid Vision, brought us up to speed on Virtual Reality and Vision Therapy. Kyle Sandberg, O.D., professor at Rosenberg School of Optometry, presented the Virtual Reality technology being used for optometric education. Margo Adams Larsen, Ph.D., Research Director of Virtually Better, Inc., discussed uses of virtual and augmented reality in medical procedures.
LEARN was the order of the day - actually, every day - as CE kicked off on Wednesday with the "In the Pipeline" series about where optometry is heading. Optometry's Meeting offered over 200 hours of continuing education over five days.
Participants experienced new formats with 30-minute Evidence Based Case Studies, Match Game and CE After Dark on Friday until midnight. Yes, quite a few people attended CE until midnight! The Scientific Poster Session took a leap into the future with state-of-the art ePoster Sessions. Optometry's Meeting concluded on Sunday with four hours of ocular pharmacology courses.
Amid a fanfare of state optometric association flags, the 120th session of the House of Delegates was called to order. In her year-in-review address, AOA President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., told delegates that AOA made incredible strides this past year in informing legislators and influencers about optometry's priorities, and educating the public about eye health, vision care and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.
Several notable special guests were welcomed onto the stage and presented AOA awards. Taking time out of their busy schedules, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) delivered messages that hit home to delegates, discussing the importance of eye health and vision care services and their own personal intersections with optometry. Rep. McMorris Rodgers was presented with the AOA Presidents' Award, while Rep. Thompson and Sen. Booker were presented with AOA Health Care Leadership Awards. AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., of New Jersey, and other members of the 2017-2018 AOA Board of Trustees were sworn into office. In his inaugural address, while calling out and celebrating AOA's "amazing" successes, Dr. Quinn called for continuing the fight for expanded scope of practice for optometry, and for doctors of optometry to fully embrace their expanding role in health care.
One of the highlights for all attendees was the Exhibit Hall. There were booths and vendors for every business and topic imaginable. Whether you were a practicing optometrist, a student, or a paraoptometric, there were products and services to learn about and exhibitors to connect with who can help you provide quality patient care.
The excitement started with the Ribbon Cutting ceremony when AOA President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., officially opened the Exhibit Hall. The Washington Nationals Racing Presidents entertained everyone. The excitement continued all week as participants enjoyed the Recharge in the Hall, bagels and muffins, fireside chats, raffle giveaways, Optometry's Meeting T-shirt giveaway, the Think About Your Eyes eyeballs handing out eclipse glasses, and much more!
A raucous crowd cheered Illinois College of Optometry on to victory in the 26th annual Essilor Optometry Student BowlTM, as optometry student Taylor Harris won $1,000 and the coveted crystal trophy. University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry took home the "Spirit Award" for most energetic and outlandish representation and will create next year's rules video. The highly competitive, high-speed test of optometric intellect is one of the highlights of Optometry's Meeting, attracting cheering students and optometrist alums alike.
The Pentagon served as a backdrop to the scenic Mt. Vernon Trail along the Potomac River for Optometry Cares®-The AOA Foundation 5K Run/Walk, sponsored in part by The Vision Council and Transitions®, on Saturday morning.
This year's top male runners in the Blue Race included: Nathan Morrow, of Indiana; Martin Harrison, of North Carolina; and James Deom, O.D., of Pennsylvania; and female runners included: Rachel Williams, of Texas; Hannah Munyan, of Arizona; and Samantha Dunnington, of Alabama. The top male runners in the Red Race included: Warren Morton, of Wyoming; Lucas Coan, of Florida; and Brice Alt, of Illinois; and top female runners included: Rebecca Sorenson, of Colorado; Marilyn Vricella, O.D., of New York; and Yi-Ching Chen, of Ontario. Click here for the full 2017 5K Run/Walk results.
It's only fitting that Optometry's Meeting concluded on a harmonious note about eyes-fresh eyes, that is.
Pop singer Andy Grammer rocked into the night at A Celebration of Optometry, sponsored by HOYA, performing his chart-topping hits, including the triple-platinum anthem "Honey, I'm Good," his platinum singles, "Keep Your Head Up," and "Fine By Me," and, of course, his current single "Fresh Eyes." Grammer's concert lit up social media, sending Optometry's Meeting out with a bang.