More than 160 people nominated women ODs for the Theia Awards for Excellence.

Women In Optometry has presented its first awards recognizing women optometrists for excellence in the categories of leadership, mentorship/education and innovation.

More than 160 people nominated women ODs for the Theia Awards for Excellence, with the Women In Optometry professional advisory board voting on the final selection. The awards were handed out on Nov. 10.

The winners:

Dr. Andrea P. Thau — Dr. D. Elva Cooper Award for Leadership and Advocacy. Thau serves as president of the American Optometric Association and is only the second woman to do so. She spent seven years on the board of the Optometric Society of the City of New York and 14 years on the board of the New York State Optometric Association, and she has served as president of the New York Academy of Optometry. She was the first woman president of all three of those organizations. Her nominators cited her career of leadership and achievement.

Dr. Melissa Barnett — Dr. Mae Booth-Jones Award for Mentoring and Education (Mentoring Award). Barnett is principal optometrist at the UC Davis Eye Center in Sacramento, CA. She is also the current president of the Scleral Lens Society, serves on a number of boards and lectures and publishes frequently on a variety of topics such as dry eye, anterior segment disease, contact lenses and a home/life balance for women in optometry. Her nominator wrote that Barnett “is more generous with her time than anyone I know.” That person cited her kindness and enthusiasm helping ODs master the clinical skills of fitting scleral lenses. Barnett also was instrumental in forming a local networking group for women ODs, which meets a few times a year, providing Sacramento area ODs the opportunity to connect, bond and learn. Her nominator concluded saying, “Melissa should be recognized for all that she does to share her knowledge and make the rest of us better optometrists.”

Dr. Stacy Ayn Lyons — Dr. Mae Booth-Jones Award for Mentoring and Education (Education Award). A tenured professor and the current chair of the Specialty and Advanced Care Department at New England College of Optometry. Since 2005, she’s been the director of the Framingham Public School Vision Center at the New England Eye Institute. She’s been an investigator or consultant for numerous research grants and a frequent author and presenter on the subject of children’s vision. Her nominators (and there were many) cite not only her passion for children’s vision but for educating the next generation of ODs. Lyons was nominated by her colleagues and her students who talked about her outreach with programs for kids, her advocacy of her colleagues and her inspiration and approachable style in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Linda M. Chous — Dr. Gertrude Stanton Award for Innovation. Chous, of Minneapolis, MN, serves as chief eye care officer for UnitedHealthcare and works on committees for the American Optometric Association and National Association of Vision Care Plans. In these roles, she is outlining a path for optometry to become more involved in monitoring patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Her nominator cited the white papers she has written on the importance of appropriate eye and vision care for United Healthcare beneficiaries, and wrote, "She is defining the role of the doctor of optometry in the greater health care arena through her work and leadership position in UHC. She also provides cutting-edge care for children in her private practice, The Glasses Menagerie."

Eyefoods — Dr. Gertrude Stanton Award for Innovation. Spearheaded by colleagues and foodies Barbara Pelletier, OD, and Laurie Capogna, OD, this Canadian initiative is focused on providing information about the nutritional value of food. The doctors wanted to bring the knowledge of foods that promote eye health beyond what was currently known. Sure, kale is great, but how much do patients need to eat? They even sent a crate of orange peppers off to a lab for analysis. It turns out that they’re one of the best food sources of zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and betacarotene. The results of their research are detailed in a whimsical, information-packed series of books: "Eyefoods," "Cooking with Eyefoods" and "Eyefoods for Kids."

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