Article Date: 8/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
AOA Congress Features Hot Trends
The AOA meeting keeps getting better every year.
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

I just returned from the 105th AOA Congress, which was in New Orleans. Appropriately billed as Optometry's Meeting, this conference presented just the right combination of continuing education courses, exhibit hall offerings and social events.

President Jimmy Carter

The opening ceremony is always a special event with an outstanding keynote speaker, but hearing former President Carter was a real treat. He has a brilliant mind and he has accomplished so much since leaving the White House. The Carter Center assists Third World countries in holding fair government elections, and the center is literally eradicating disease. I think our nation is just beginning to realize what a great man President Carter is.

President Carter's optometrist, Dr. Carlton Hicks, gave an excellent introduction of his patient and friend. It sparkled with personal insights about the president and humor about the early years of their doctor-patient relationship. It seems Dr. Hicks examined then-Governor Jimmy Carter, in the days before O.D.s were permitted to even use diagnostic drugs in Georgia. State-of-the-art care at the time included McKay-Marg tonometry, which was done without a corneal anesthetic. Dr. Hicks recalled that the optometric drug legislation seemed to move along much quicker after that.

President Carter related his own personal experience with two of his grandchildren being diagnosed and treated for amblyopia. He ended his moving speech with an appeal to all optometrists to work together on initiatives to see that all children receive full eye exams before starting school. It made you proud to be an optometrist.

The buzz

Some of the hot topics that circulated the convention center included:

Education

More courses and scientific posters than ever were presented at Congress this year. The hot topics included glaucoma, eye disease, practice development, bifocal contact lenses, computer vision syndrome, low vision, and LASIK co-management.

Breakfast seminars, evening dinner seminars and exhibitor seminars were top-notch -- and free! These were not sales pitches but cutting-edge and informative and featured nationally respected speakers.

AOA business

Of course, the House of Delegates and many other committees met, allowing thousands of O.D. volunteers, state executives and AOA staffers to work together to advance the profession of optometry in so many ways. They all deserve our gratitude.

Social events

The host city for the AOA Congress is always a fun attraction in itself, and provides an excellent family vacation destination. I don't think there is better food anywhere than in N'awlins. The AOA always has tours, activities and a free concert. This year's was the Neville Brothers, and last year's was the Boston Pops.

AOA Congress is in San Diego next year, one of the most beautiful cities in the country and a near- perfect climate. Mark your calendar for June 18-22.

I hope to see you there!

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Optometric Management, Issue: August 2002