Sheldon Wechsler and George Mertz Contact Lens Residency Award

History and Purpose

Residency training is becoming an increasingly important aspect of optometric training. A post-OD residency program significantly advances a graduate's preparation as an eye-care provider and provides additional experiences in instruction and scholarship. Many schools and colleges of optometry now require residency training as a basic prerequisite for new clinical faculty.


The Sheldon Wechsler and George Mertz Contact Lens Residency programs, which are funded by Johnson & Johnson Vision, are intended to promote the practice and development of the field of contact lenses by providing incentive and support to sustain talented optometric residents who demonstrate a passion and commitment to practice, research, and education.

Each recipient will receive $2,000 plus one $750 travel fellowship to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry; where the recipient will spend volunteer time at the AAOF exhibit booth and be recognized at the annual AAOF Celebration Luncheon. 

Eligibility and Application

The submission window opens April 2, 2018 and closes June 1, 2018.

Two George Mertz and one Sheldon Wechsler award will be granted to optometrists, currently serving in a 2017-18 academic year calendar advanced practice contact lens residency program through a North-American school or college of optometry may apply. Anyone who has yet to begin a residency for the 2017-18 academic year calendar is ineligible.

Applications must include the following:

  1. Cover page that lists applicant name, any degrees, facility of residency, optometric institution under which serving residency, current and permanent address information, email and day and evening phone contact information.
  2. The applicant’s education, clinical, research, and teaching experience typically in the form of a CV.
  3. A brief description of the residency program and the names and email addresses of the three people you have contacted to submit letters of recommendation.
  4. A one-page statement of career goals and list the date/status of when AAO membership was obtained.
  5. Three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on educational qualifications, research abilities, and potential.  One of which must be the Residency Director or Program Coordinator of the institution. These should be emailed separately by the recommender.
  6. The applicants must be a member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO); whether as a student, candidate, or Fellow at the time of acceptance of any award.  To learn more, visit the AAO website: Student Membership for student membership information and Candidate for Fellowship for how to become a Fellow. 

Applications and letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically (preferably as a PDF file) the to AAOF at: Please include “Residency Award” and the applicant’s last name in the subject line. 
Ex: Residency Award - Smith

Review Procedures

Proposals will be reviewed by a peer review committee established by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation with the assistance of the American Academy of Optometry Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies chair. The applicants will be evaluated primarily on the basis of their educational background and their ability and potential as teachers, researchers, and practitioners in the field of contact lenses.

Award Notes

It is the standard policy of the AAOF that an award recipient who receives, a travel stipend to attend an event, cannot also receive a second travel stipend from the Foundation or its affiliate, the AAO.

Prior to the awards submission window opening the guidelines for any given award are subject to change by the AAOF and/or the award sponsor. Applicants are reminded to please review all information before submitting their application to ensure all award criteria is met.

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 will appear in a variety of  media formats that will announce and promote the program including, but not limited to, the AAOF and/or sponsor annual report, website, annual meeting promotional materials.

For additional information contact Jennifer Rubin, Foundation Program Manager, at: 321-710-3959


2018 George W. Mertz Contact Lens Residency Award

Erin Tomiyama, OD
University of Houston College of Optometry

Kelsy R. Steele, OD, MS

The Ohio State University College of Optometry

2018 Sheldon Wechsler Contact Lens Residency Award

Pratik Patel, OD
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

2017 George W. Mertz Contact Lens Residency Award

Jamie Kuzniar, OD
Indiana University School of Optometry

Kelsy R. Steele, OD, MS

The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Grace Liao, OD
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University

2017 Sheldon Wechsler Contact Lens Residency Award

Trevor J. Fosso, OD
Illinois College of Optometry

Emily M. Korszen, OD

Pacific University College of Optometry

Jessica Jose, OD
Illinois College of Optometry

2016 George W. Mertz Contact Lens Residency Award

Elaine Chen, OD
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University

2016 Sheldon Wechsler Contact Lens Residency Award

Michelle Man, OD
Illinois Eye Institute, Illinois College of Optometry
AAOF is thankful for the professional relationship between the Foundation and Johnson & Johnson Vision. Their exceptional support to raise the quality of optometric education to a new level is unparalleled in the industry.

JJ Residencies
2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision Residency and Student Travel Fellowship Recipients with company representatives and AAOF President, David Kirschen