Academy 2015 New Orleans Surpasses Attendance Records

The American Optometric Foundation

Academy 2015 New Orleans was the 94th annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry, and the largest meeting in Academy history with 7,489 total registrants. This included 4,368 optometrists and vision scientists and 1,399 students, marking an 18% overall increase in attendance over 2014. Attendees engaged in high-quality learning, experienced new products and technologies in a packed Exhibit Hall, and met the optometrists and vision scientists who are not only conducting the research, but also bringing the results to their clinics and practices.

The Plenary Session was titled “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice®: Ocular Melanomas: Past, Present and Future.” Drs. Carol and Jerry Shields spoke to over 2,000 attendees about differentiating between suspicious and non-suspicious pigmented and amelanotic lesions and introducing new treatment and management options.

The first-ever joint educational program of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Ophthalmology took place in New Orleans, with the identical program to be repeated at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in Las Vegas in November. Evidence-based pediatric eye care was addressed by Drs. Donald Mutti, Bruce Moore, and Susan Cotter, and American Academy of Ophthalmology representatives Drs. Jonathan Holmes, Mary Louise Collins, and Jean Ramsey. This collaboration is the first effort by the two Academy organizations to work together to better prepare and support their members in delivering the highest quality eye care.

A highlight of the meeting was the President’s Banquet on Saturday where 240 new Fellows were inducted into the American Academy of Optometry. Fellows of the Academy must complete a candidacy process that includes submitting written work demonstrating their skills as an optometrist or vision scientist, and sitting for an oral exam at the Annual Meeting of the Academy. It is estimated that 10% of practicing optometrists in the United States are Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO). Optometrists, scientists, educators, librarians, administrators and editors are eligible to become Fellows of the Academy and earn the right to use “FAAO” after their name.

In addition, a record 14 individuals were awarded Diplomate status by Sections of the American Academy of Optometry. Diplomates are Fellows of the Academy who wish to demonstrate their skill in a specific area. Currently nine Sections offer Diplomate programs: Anterior Segment; Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry; Cornea, Contact Lenses & Refractive Technologies; Glaucoma; Low Vision; Optometric Education; Primary Care; Public Health & Environmental Vision; and Vision Science.

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF), the Academy’s foundation supporting research and education, would like to thank registrants, sponsors, donors, awardees, and volunteers for making Academy 2015 New Orleans another huge success. The meeting resulted in more than $190,000 in donations and new pledges. Approximately 200 supporters attended the Foundation’s Celebration Luncheon, resulting in more than $33,000 in donations and pledges at that event alone. Special thanks go to the five individuals and couples who joined the Presidents Circle during the meeting by making pledges or donations of $10,000. Because of their commitment, the AOF Circle of Giving which includes President’s Circle, now has more than 135 pledged memberships. Additionally, the AOF would like to thank the Alcon Foundation for hosting the Thursday, October 8th, World Sight Day Cycle for Sight 20/20 Challenge where attendees cycled for a total of 2,020 minutes triggering a $25,000 donation to the AOF. The Alcon Foundation additionally generously sponsored a $25,000 matching gift campaign throughout the meeting.

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