For the First Time in Philadelphia, Optometry’s Meeting Features a Packed Schedule of Events This Week

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Accepting the Apollo Award from AOA president Mitchell T. Munson, OD, is Michele Maitenaz, Bernard Maitenaz’s son.
PHILADELPHIA—The American Optometric Association’s Optometry’s Meeting got underway on Wednesday June 25, 2014 with the Essilor-sponsored opening general session, where awards were presented to leading optometrists and to the inventor of the progressive addition lens.

Bernard Maitenaz, the inventor of Varilux progressive lenses for Essilor, received the highest award presented to the general public by the AOA, the Apollo Award. Accepting via video presentation, he pointed out that the AOA meeting was being held in the historic home of Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the bifocal, which Maitenaz said the progressive addition lenses that he invented improved upon. He also acknowledged the independent optometrists who helped with the success of Varilux lenses, the first version of which were introduced in 1959, followed by Varilux 2 in 1972 when “the profession really adapted and progressive lens acceptance took off.”

Today, after the launch of the current version of Varilux S with two aspheric sides, “the bifocal is declining and has disappeared in certain countries,” said Maitenaz. “Your mission is splendid, to help people see better,” said the Apollo Award winner, acknowledging optometry’s role in the fact that there have been “more than one billion presbyopes wearing progressive lenses since the beginning.”

Peter M. Agnone, Jr., OD, honored for his extensive work toward full scope optometric care, was named 2014 Optometrist of the Year. “The passion to expand scope began early in my career,” he said, referring to the fact that where he practiced he saw a lot of unionized auto workers with limited care. Acknowledging the help he received from the Michigan Optometric Association and the AOA, he challenged everyone to be an advocate for the profession and join their state’s affiliated optometric association.

Also involved in expanding optometry’s scope of care, Paul C. Ajamian, OD, was named 2014 Distinguished Service Award Recipient. Stating that he shared the award with his GOA, ABO and SECO families, he predicted that this will be an historic year with the new AOA president, David A. Cockrell, OD, who will be sworn in at the end of Optometry’s Meeting.

M. Rob Pate, OD, was named 2014 Young Optometrist of the Year, who said, “the real honor goes to you all, the movers and shakers of optometry.” Gilbert E. Pierce, OD, PhD, was named 2014 Optometric Educator of the Year, who acknowledged that “this award would be meaningless without thanking my former, current and future students.” Roberta Beers, CPOT, was named 2014 Paraoptometric of the Year. She encouraged the optometrists in attendance to “support your staff and encourage them to obtain education.”

The award presentation was followed by Essilor’s Rod Tahran, OD announcing that the world’s largest lens company is creating a scholarship honoring Maitenaz that will be administered by Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation and that will provide $10,000 each year for the next 10 years to a third year optometry student. Tahran also announced that Essilor will also invest $20 million this year in consumer marketing for its Varilux, Crizal and Xperio brands.

The opening general session concluded with a keynote presentation by Scott Hamilton, who has amassed a number of accomplishments since his international recognition as an Olympic gold figure skater in 1984. He recounted the health and family struggles he’s overcome throughout his life, but living according to the motto “the only disadvantage in life is a bad attitude” he has concluded that the best way to approach life is “if you fall down, you get up.” He also thanked the optometrists in attendance “for the work you do every day.”

Also featuring the American Optometric Student Association’s 44th annual conference and the 117th annual AOA Congress, Optometry’s Meeting, which runs through Saturday, June 28, is packed with association functions, business meetings, corporate presentations, receptions, social events and much more.

Yesterday, Optometry’s Meeting continued with a full day of events, including the opening of the exhibit hall featuring more than 200 exhibitors and the National Optometry Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which honored Arol R. Augsburger, OD, of Chicago; Ron Fair, OD, of Brighton, Colo.; and Karla Zadnik, OD, Ph.D. of Worthington, Ohio, previously reported by VMail.

The evening concluded with the 23rd annual Essilor-sponsored Varilux Optometry Student Bowl, the winner of which was determined last night after press time.

Optometry’s Meeting concludes tomorrow with an early morning 5K run/walk sponsored by The Vision Council, delegates meetings, continuing education, the last day of the exhibit hall and A Celebration of Optometry featuring Martin Short, sponsored by Hoya.

See the award winners, industry executives and other dignitaries who attended the annual event in the Optometry’s Meeting slideshow.