The American Academy of Optometry Foundation’s (AAOF) strategic planning process included the development of new programs. These new programs addressed unmet constituent needs and aligned with the American Academy of Optometry’s strategic plan. One of the new pillars is increased support to optometric research. The AAOF identified two gaps in research funding and proposed actions to address these. These initiatives include 1) the development of new collaborations with research partners 2) stimulation of novel exploratory research by funding pilot research projects.


To provide funding to support exploratory research, with the long-term goal of generating outcomes that ultimately increase grant funding to optometric research in North America.

Up to $100,000 is available for funding in 2022. For the 2022 award cycle, at least $10,000 will be awarded for pediatric research. It is expected that the Foundation will award multiple grants from this funding; however, applicants are open to submit a request up to $100,000. All grant applications will be reviewed for both scientific merit and appropriate budget justification.

The AAOF reserves the right to reduce the budget to that judged appropriate for the materials and research effort required. Matching or any other type of material or personnel support are welcomed and should be included in the proposal. 

No indirect (i.e., facilities and administration) costs will be provided.

All funds, as per policy of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Academy of Optometry Foundation, will be issued in U.S. currency to the primary institution of record.

Awards support research conducted for a period of no more than 2 years. Recipients must submit a minimum 500-word report of his or her research findings to the AAOF at the end of each award period, to be eligible for subsequent awards sponsored by the AAOF.


  • Students, research staff (e.g., research assistant, post-doctoral fellow) and faculty in optometry in North America.
  • Eligible individuals include optometrists (Masters or Doctor degrees in optometry) who are working in ophthalmologic medical centers and non-optometrists working/studying in a school or college of optometry.
  • The Principal Investigator must be a member (Fellow/Candidate for Fellowship) of the AAO. It is also encouraged that all co-investigators be members as well. To learn more, please visit: Candidate for Fellowship at
  • The applicant must have a full-time appointment/position in his or her center over the period of the award.

Application Process

All proposal materials must be submitted online via our online submission system. Click the APPLY NOW button on the left of the page to apply. 

Applications should be in Arial 11pt font with half-inch margins and be single-spaced.

Applicants should first submit a letter of intent (LOI) for the purposes of confirming eligibility and institutional commitment, as well as providing an overview of the aims and budget request. 

The LOI should include:

  • Project title, institution and address, name (including degree(s)) and titles for Principal Investigator and all Co-Investigators) and contact information
  • A current Non -Fellowship Biosketch (NIH format) for each study team member. Please visit:

  • A letter from an Institutional Official stipulating the appointment and current support (e.g. other grants, clinical/teaching/research appointments, etc.) of all study members

  • An abstract (300-word maximum) that briefly states the objectives of the proposed project, the specific aims and hypothesis to be evaluated, an overview of the research design and methods, and potential for further research in optometry
  • A budget overview
After review of LOIs, a notice will be sent to the applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal.

The full proposal includes:
  • Cover page: Project title, institution and address, name (including degree(s)) and titles for Principal Investigator and all Co-Investigators) and contact information
  • Project: background and significance, specific aim(s), study design and methods (maximum five pages)
  • References (maximum of one page)
  • Budget and budget justification (maximum of one page)
  • Biographical sketch(es) of Principal Investigator Co-Investigators (NIH format, maximum of three pages for each investigator) Please visit:
  • A signed Letter of Assurance (one page) by an Institutional Official indicating that the proposal has been reviewed, meets with the standards of the institution and, if warranted, observes all rules and regulations regarding compliance with research on human or animal subjects 
  • Other letters of support, as applicable

Review Process

The AAO Research Committee and external reviewers with topical expertise, as needed, provide a scientific merit review. No feedback will be provided on LOIs, but full applicants will receive a detailed summary statement. Following scientific review, the Foundation Programs Approval Committee (PAC) selects recipients based on merit and programmatic goals. Results are provided to the Foundation Board for final decisions on funding.

Grant Notes

Awards will not be made, unless appropriate human subjects and/or animal care and usage approvals are in place. Annual progress reports are required, with a summary of goals achieved, detailed timeline of accomplishments (including abstracts and publications), and a detailed report on funds expended.

The award recipient will be invited to attend the next AAO annual meeting to be recognized and participate at AAOF events.

Any manuscript or publication material produced must acknowledge the American Academy of  Optometry Foundation.

Recipients are encouraged to submit a manuscript to Optometry and Vision Science.

All award recipients by application and acceptance of an award agree to allow the AAOF and/or the sponsor of the program, to which they applied, to publish their name, image, institution information, and any statement or quote provided by the recipient. These may appear in a variety of media formats that announce and promote the program including, but not limited to, the AAOF’s and/or sponsor’s annual report, website, annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information contact:

Jennifer Rubin
Awards and Student Membership Engagement Manager
622 E. Washington St. #300
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: 321-319-4872


Timeline for LOI and Invited Proposals

  • Call for Letter of Intent (LOI) submissions (February 21, 2022)
  • LOI submission deadline (April 11, 2022)
  • Invitation to submit proposal (May 23, 2022)
  • Grant proposal submission deadline (July 18, 2022)
  • Notification of awards (at Academy 2022 San Diego)
  • Funds disbursed (January 2023)