Academy 2020 Moves Online to Create an Innovative Virtual Meeting Experience


ORLANDO—As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the American Academy of Optometry’s (AAO) “continued focus on the health and well-being of its constituents,” the organization on Wednesday announced that Academy 2020 Nashville will be held entirely as a virtual meeting renamed Academy 2020 At Home. Academy Nashville becomes the latest of several industry meetings—including Expo West and Optometry’s Meeting—that have either canceled the 2020 session or moved to a virtual format, as VMAIL reported here and here.

Academy 2020 At Home will be available Oct.7-22 during select periods of each day.

“We listened to our stakeholders and watched the national health situation very carefully including the impact on Nashville, and we absolutely believe this is the best decision for everyone,” Academy chief executive officer Peter Scott said in the announcement. “While we’re disappointed that we can’t hold this show in person, I’m extremely excited to announce that we’ve found a dynamic and robust online platform that will be able to deliver an unbelievably innovative experience.”

Academy 2020 At Home will offer “live” COPE continuing education (CE) approval, speaker coordination and a broad, insightful experience for attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, the announcement noted. In this new format, the Academy will be able to deliver nearly 300 hours of continuing education (CE) and participants will be able to earn up to 80 hours of CE credits.

In a traditional in-person meeting, attendees were limited to 34 hours of CE credits.

The Academy’s annual meeting attracts leading optometrists, scientists, vision care professionals, students, support personnel and media, and this year’s event will feature cutting edge education, the latest scientific research and a virtual exhibit hall. Because Nashville is “the Music City” and features some of the world’s most renowned artisans, restaurants and culture, the Academy is bringing these elements to the virtual experience, according to the announcement.

Scott said, “We’ve worked really hard to make this event exciting, engaging and educational as well as entertaining. We may not be able to go to a Honky Tonk on Broadway this year, but we’re definitely working to bring that feel to our attendees’ own living rooms.”

Registration for Academy 2020 At Home, with sessions occurring Oct. 7 through Oct. 22, is now open. The cost is $435 for members and $795 for non-members. Those who have already registered will automatically receive a link to the event, and people who do not wish to participate can request a full refund.

The broadcast schedule is currently in development and will be available soon so participants can begin to customize and plan their virtual experience.

This year’s virtual meeting will feature an important Plenary Session titled, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice,” looking at how standards of care and diagnostic standards have changed significantly over the past several years, and the impacts of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and other common ailments on patient care moving forward.

The Academy will also host a special symposium on diversity, equity and inclusion. This event co-presented by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), and the National Optometric Association (NOA) will promote a basic understanding of the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in optometric education and clinical practice.

Academy Board president Dr. Barbara Caffery said, “Academy 2020 At Home is going to be a fantastic event, designed to bring exciting and interactive experiences to participants in the safety of their own homes or offices. As always, the Academy will provide the very best clinical and scientific knowledge, as only the Academy can do. Attendees will leave with the information needed to excel in the changing world of optometry. We will continue to inspire excellence in optometric practice.”