The World Health Organization (WHO) just released its first ever world report on vision, identifying global “significant challenges” in vision health. Today, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) announced a commitment to rise to those challenges.
The first step will occur during the joint meeting of American Academy of Optometry and World Council of Optometry taking place October 23-27, 2019 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The meeting, known as Academy 2019 Orlando and the 3rd World Congress of Optometry, will feature a plenary discussion on Wednesday, October 23 at 10 am featuring leaders from WHO and AAO. That session and the entire meeting are open to credentialed media.
AAO is a North American based association with a global reach, serving nearly 12,000 optometric professionals and students. The organization’s goal is to improve optometric practice through lifelong learning with education and research, and is best known for its coveted Fellowship program (FAAO) signifying adherence to the highest standards of professional competence in vision care.
The World report on vision says 2.2 billion people have some form of vision impairment, of whom 1 billion have an impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. The report anticipates a growth in those numbers over the next few years and calls for stakeholders including eye care practitioners and policymakers to help shape a global agenda on vision to help stem the crisis.
AAO Board President, Dr. Barbara Caffery believes the report will be crucial in uniting the entire vision health community to address the problem. “Optometrists and all of the disciplines within vision care have the skills and opportunity to bring about profound change around the world,” she said. “We believe this report will galvanize the issue and trigger a coordinated effort. At AAO, we are ready to step up and fight this battle.”
The WHO report identifies universal vision coverage, standardization of practice methods and a global disparity in quality of care among a series of barriers to world-wide vision care improvement. As one of the world’s leading vision care membership and advocacy associations, AAO accredits optometrists and inspires the highest standards of evidence-based care, a critical component of WHO’s path forward.
“The American Academy of Optometry is in a unique position to help educate and train the workforce that can solve this problem. We will also help push for the standardization of care while we advance the inclusion of optometry into standard practice where it is not currently recognized,” Dr. Caffery said in the news release. “AAO is ready to put the full weight of our organization behind this global effort.”
The World report on vision will be a defining topic throughout Academy 2019 Orlando and the 3rd World Congress of Optometry next week. The meeting will draw more than 8,000 optometrists, ophthalmologists, vision care professionals, students, support personnel and media to Florida, to discuss the latest optometric developments, trends and strategies. The October 23 Plenary session at 10:00 am will focus on the report and begin to define how optometrists can play their crucial part in addressing its findings.
Over the coming months, AAO will hold discussions and develop strategies to raise awareness and address the findings of the WHO report while defining a path for members to share their talents. “Our members are well trained and highly skilled,” said Dr. Caffery. “We have the ability to affect significant change for vision-impaired people around the world and we are committed to doing it.”