President's Calling - Academy 17: Another Banner Meeting

Published November 7, 2017

In This Issue...

President's Calling

Academy 17: Another Banner Meeting 


American Academy of Optometry © 2017
All Rights Reserved

October 2017

Academy 17: Another Banner Meeting

In my very first President’s Calling after returning from Academy 2016 Anaheim, I asked the question, “Where do we go from here?” The answer to that year-old question will be obvious to anyone who attended Academy 2017 Chicago. By all metrics, the meeting was a tremendous success. Our total attendance set another record at 7,692 (higher than our previous largest meeting)! We celebrated by adding 256 new Fellows and inducting 10 new Diplomates at the Saturday Fellowship Banquet (more on that later). The quality of lectures, scientific papers and posters, and symposia was phenomenal, and the collaboration with other disciplines was quite evident in many of the panels and symposia presented.

Here’s a quick review of the many facets of this meeting that made it an incredible experience, starting with a fabulous Plenary Session that featured world renowned scientists and clinicians. This year’s session, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice®: The Eye as a Mirror of the Brain,” featured three well known speakers: Robert Sergott, MD, director of neuro-ophthalmologic Services at Wills Eye Hospital; Marina Bedny, PhD, assistant professor of Psychology & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University; and Christopher Hudson, PhD, MCOpt, professor at the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Science, University of Toronto. The balanced research and its translational benefits were obvious as each of the speakers highlighted the value of basic science research and using the utilities of imaging the optic nerve and retina to inform us about the brain.

We were delighted to offer the third joint symposium with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, again featuring world-renowned speakers. This joint program has been a huge success and we hope to continue holding joint symposia for many more meetings. The topic, “Ocular Surface Disease: What You May be Missing,” moderated by Steve Pflugfelder, MD and Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO, had over 1,500 in attendance. They were joined by Ellen Shorter, OD, FAAO, assistant professor of ophthalmology, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Victor Perez, MD, professor of ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine. Carolyn Begley, OD, MS, FAAO, professor, Indiana University School of Optometry, had her presentation given in absentia. The program provided an in-depth analysis of pathophysiology and new strategies in caring for this large cohort of patients affected by ocular surface disease. The joint symposium was followed by the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society presenting on TFOS-DEWS II.

For four days, the lectures and workshops portion of the meeting provided a wide array of pertinent topics ranging from contact lenses, pediatric and binocular vision, and low vision to pathology of the eye. The Scientific Program’s papers and posters continue to set us apart from other eye care meetings. There was a record number of submissions this year, and the quality of papers and posters continues to soar. 

This year’s Monroe J. Hirsch Research Symposium, “Precision Medicine and the Future of Eye Care,” examined the developments that have led to the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative. One million volunteers will be enrolled beginning this year and it is expected to change approaches to patient care. Additional educational opportunities included the Ezell Fellows Presents, “Complications of Abnormal Vision Development,” and eight Diplomate review courses given throughout the meeting. A wide array of exciting symposia topics was again explored by our Sections and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

The Award’s Program, headed by Don Mutti, OD, PhD, FAAO, continues to be a highlight of our meeting. This year was particularly moving, and I doubt there was a dry eye in the audience following Harue Marsden’s Eminent Service Award (posthumous) acceptance by her sister. Our recipients are selected from many worthy nominees. The Glenn A. Fry Award, presented by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation, (Mitchell Scheiman, OD, PhD, FAAO) and Charles F. Prentice Medal (Eli Peli, MSc, OD, FAAO) lectures were exceptional and provided significant relevant information for clinical practice. I would encourage anyone who has never attended the ceremony to do so in San Antonio. Congratulations to all our worthy recipients.

This was the 24th year for a leadership program to be offered. The Merton C. Flom Leadership InSight© Program was organized by Dr. Muriel Schornack. The goal is for the Academy to groom new potential leaders for the Academy and the profession and allow those already in leadership roles to increase their effectiveness. 

We recognized the new Fellows and Diplomates at the Fellowship Banquet on Saturday evening to cap off the meeting. The changes to the banquet format and program were well received. Kudos to our Membership and Admittance Committees for stellar recruitment and evaluation activities throughout the year, and especially at the annual meeting. We now proudly stand at a record setting total membership of nearly 12,000. It was gratifying to see the convention center and hotels bustling with so many students and residents. Also, a special thank you to the rest of the committees not mentioned who work so hard throughout the year and may have less of an obvious presence on-site at the annual meeting.

Just when we thought the Anaheim meeting might be our highest attendance ever, this year’s attendance soared to nearly 7,700, including 4,799 optometrists or vision scientists. This represents the largest optometric meeting (total optometrists) to ever be held! 

In case you haven’t attended in many years, here’s what you’re missing. Exceptional education over four days, Section and SIG Symposia, two exciting join symposia, one with ARVO and one with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Awards Program, the Hirsch symposium, the Plenary Session, rapid fire sessions, and scientific papers and posters. In addition, evening receptions are wonderful social events provide opportunities for networking and sharing ideas with colleagues who share common interests in Section and SIG topic areas. 

So, I’ll ask the question again. Where do we go from here? San Antonio! After a site visit with the Board, I am excited for this venue to hold our next meeting. The convention center is beautiful and may be the nicest center I’ve ever seen. The River Walk is charming and hosts a full complement of restaurants. Even though we can’t predict the number who may attend, all of us at the Academy are hoping for even bigger attendance than in Chicago. We’re confident the meeting will continue to thrive and the number of new members will continue to grow. 

Won’t you plan on joining the excitement in San Antonio, November 7-10, 2018 by marking your calendar now? Don’t miss out on what promises to be another incredible meeting for optometry and another blockbuster event. Hope to see you there. 

Next month’s President’s Calling will focus on the generosity of our members and sponsors. Highlights will include the huge success experienced by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. In addition, following the unimaginable devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, several individuals and companies came to the aid of the students attending Academy 2017 Chicago from Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry.


Joseph P. Shovlin, OD, FAAO
President, American Academy of Optometry