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Celebrating Excellence at the American Academy of Optometry Meeting

October 19, 2023

Last week, the American Academy of Optometry Meeting took place, and it was a truly remarkable event for our profession. The excitement surrounding our field, our colleagues, and our industry partners was palpable, and I can’t help but feel incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved.

Helen Viskins, the AAO board, and the entire team deserve applause for orchestrating a successful meeting that left a lasting impression on everyone who attended.

The educational program, the dinners and board meetings, the poster sessions, and the exhibit hall were nothing short of exceptional. The buzz generated by the latest advancements in pharmacology, surgery, technology, and contact lenses was electric. I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative industry booths that showcased the latest eye care breakthroughs.

This year was particularly special for me as my son, Dr. Mark Schaeffer, completed his fellowship and can now proudly display FAAO after his name. (My youngest son, Dr. David Schaeffer, received his last year, so we have only one more to go.) The volunteers who generously offer their time and expertise demonstrate the incredible camaraderie among our colleagues. It was heartwarming to see the same doctor who awarded me my diploma years ago present one to Mark. Thank you, once again, for your dedication. During lunch, a packed room of OD volunteers could be seen testing our new fellows — a true testament to the commitment of our profession.

Now, let’s talk about what I experienced in New Orleans. Firstly, there were so many dinners and parties that it was a challenge to start each morning with enthusiasm. The issue wasn’t a lack of things to do but rather the abundance of courses and meetings to attend. I found myself pondering which courses to take each day. Should it be anterior segment and dry eye, my area of expertise? Or perhaps myopia control, a major frontier for Optometry? Then there were the glaucoma updates, essential in our ever-evolving field. Pain control, a crucial aspect of patient care, and retinal updates were also on the menu. I can’t even begin to describe the multitude of courses on contact lenses and pediatrics.

You may have noticed I didn’t mention any practice management courses, although there were plenty of those available. At the Academy, it’s always about clinical excellence and patient care. The clinically based courses are so outstanding that at the Academy, it’s all about the clinical and patient-centered approach. There were so many great courses to choose from, and you could simply walk into any one of them without the need for extensive preplanning. Even if a few were sold out, there were plenty of alternatives to explore.

Meeting and reconnecting with friends and colleagues, sharing personal and clinical stories, completed the enriching experience.

If you haven’t already considered becoming a Fellow, I urge you to do so. Now is the perfect time to join us. Please mark your calendars for next year’s event. For more information on becoming a Fellow, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Academy. They can walk you through this rewarding process.

We at Review of Presbyopia and the Aging Eye are here to keep you informed on all the latest in eye care.


Jack L Schaeffer, OD, FAAO


  • Jack L. Schaeffer, OD, FAAO, Chief Clinical Editor

    Dr. Schaeffer is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. He practiced in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was also president of an 18-location group practice and a refractive laser center. Dr. Schaeffer lectures internationally and serves on many industry boards and advisory panels. He is involved with many clinical studies on contact lenses, pharmaceuticals, and equipment. He has recently authored a miniseries on the history of contact lenses and the contact lens specialty practice. He was an Executive Associate Editor of the International Contact Lens Leadership Summit and the developer and Editor of the series, Optometry Scene. Dr. Schaeffer also served as Chairman of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the American Optometric Society. He served as board member and fundraising chairman for Optometry Cares: The AOA Foundation and the GPLI Institute. Dr. Schaeffer is on the College of Charleston School of Business Board of Governors. Dr. Schaeffer is involved in multiple community, charitable, and political organizations in Alabama and South Carolina.

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