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ASCO Announces Award Recipients

5 awards were given.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ROCKVILLE, MD – The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces the recipients of the 2019 Special Recognition Awards.

ASCO Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Arol Augsburger, president emeritus of Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), is given this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who, over an extended period of time, provided exceptional leadership to ASCO and to optometric education, made outstanding contributions to the optometric community, and displayed exemplary commitment and dedication to the association.

Prior to Augsburger’s appointment at ICO in 2002, he served 30 years in a variety of leadership roles in higher education, including the interim provost of UAB, dean and professor of the UAB School of Optometry, and professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.

“I am honored and proud to be named the ASCO 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awardee,” says Augsburger. “Indeed, it is recognition by colleagues in higher education who have revolutionized the profession of optometry during the last 50 years which is most gratifying. I have been fortunate to be an able part of that evolution of our profession during my career. Thank you.”

ASCO Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service. This year’s Rising Star awardee is Diane Russo, OD, MPH.

Russo is an associate professor in the Department of Primary Care at New England College of Optometry, where she is instructor of record for the public health course sequence. She is also an attending optometrist at the Codman Square Health Center in Boston, where she precepts second-, third-, and fourth-year students.

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Russo received her OD from SUNY College of Optometry, her MPH from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and received residency training at the West Haven VAMC. She is chair-elect for ASCO’s Public Health Educators Special Interest Group (SIG) and is an active member of the AOA and Massachusetts Society of Optometrists, serving on the Health Promotions Committee and Legislative Action Committee, respectively.

“I am incredibly honored to be nominated and chosen for this award,” says Russo. “It has been an amazing privilege to be able to care for patients, while also contributing to the profession by educating future Doctors of Optometry.”

ASCO Ophthalmic Industry Leadership Award
The ASCO Ophthalmic Industry Leadership Award recognizes an individual from a current or past Corporate Contributor partner company who demonstrates exemplary support of ASCO and its member institutions. The individual serves as an example for his/her colleagues in industry, and has made exceptional and meaningful contributions to the advancement of ASCO and optometric education.

ASCO’s 2019 Industry Leadership Awardee is Richard E. Weisbarth, vice president, professional affairs, U.S. Vision Care of Alcon. Weisbarth received his OD degree from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He also served in the Contact Lens Practice Residency Program at the University of Alabama in Birmingham School of Optometry.

“Supporting optometric education today is the best investment we can make for the future. By working together – ASCO, academia and industry can create a better tomorrow in vision care,” says Weisbarth.

Dr. Lester Janoff Award for Writing Excellence
The Dr. Lester Janoff Award for Writing Excellence recognizes the outstanding writing of a research article published in the ASCO Journal Optometric Education. The award is named in honor of Dr. Lester E. Janoff, editor of the Journal from 2002-2005, and long-time member of the editorial review board who was known as an exceptional optometric educator, administrator, contact lens clinician and researcher. Janoff was also a beloved mentor of young writers.

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Drs. Mark Dunne and Bhavna Pancholi of Aston University are this year’s recipients. Their article, “Virtual Patient Instruction and Self-Assessment Accuracy in Optometry Students,” was published in the Winter-Spring 2018 (Volume 43 Number 2) of Optometric Education.

Student Award in Clinical Ethics
ASCO and the Ethics Educators SIG announces Negar Sohbati as this year’s winner. This annual award, sponsored by Alcon, provides the winner with a stipend and plaque.

Negar is a student at ICO and is expected to graduate with her doctor of optometry degree next year. Her winning essay, “Optometrist as Mandatory Reporter: What is Our Obligation to Keep the Roads Safe for All?” will be considered for publication in Optometric Education.

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Newly Introduced Federal Legislation Puts Doctors and Patients Back in Control of Important Health Care Decisions

AOA-backed “DOC Access Act” targets health and vision plan abuses; improves quality and access for millions of patients.

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(PRESS RELEASE) WASHINGTON – A bi-partisan bill backed by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to counter abusive practices in the federally regulated vision and dental coverage markets, and ensure patients and doctors – as opposed to insurance and plan executives – are at the center of important health care decision-making.

“The DOC Access Act seeks to completely ban, at the Federal level, anti-doctor and anti-patient policies of vision plans,” said Barbara L. Horn, O.D., AOA president. “The AOA is proud to join with the American Dental Association in supporting this legislation and in thanking Reps. Loebsack, Carter and all of the other original co-sponsors for their decisive leadership.”

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Introduced by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) on July 15th, H.R. 3762, or the Dental and Optometric Care Access (DOC Access) Act, already enjoys support from seven cosponsors, building upon the overwhelming support generated in the 115th Congress with 105 U.S. House Republicans and Democrats. The bill would eliminate plan mandates being forced on patients and their doctors that ultimately result in higher prices and less access to care. In effect, the legislation would complement state-level vision plan laws by disallowing detrimental policies by ERISA and other federally regulated vision and health plans, namely:

  • Limits on a doctor’s choice of lab
  • Mandates on noncovered services and materials

Each year, millions of Americans rely on local doctors of optometry for their comprehensive vision and eye health care needs. While many patients have coverage for medical eye care through a health plan, roughly 200 million Americans have supplemental preventive eye exam and materials (glasses/contact lenses) benefits through a vision plan.

Unfortunately, special legal treatment (vision plans often aren’t regulated like health insurers) and a lack of competition in the market. Currently, a small number of national, vertically—integrated plans monopolize markets in a large majority of communities. In fact, the two most dominant vision plans provide coverage to roughly two-thirds of Americans with this coverage, which means plans can dictate how doctors furnish services thereby limiting patient choice.

A 2016 study by Avalon Health Economics conducted by a group of independent health economists found that this kind of monopsony behavior exhibited by vision plans harms consumers. Avalon concluded that “such mandates have another effect – they lead to higher overall costs for these consumers and, especially, for consumers without vision plans as doctors are forced to compensate for the transfer of operating margins from doctors to the plans.”

Already, 42 states have enacted legislation addressing these and other plan abuses; however, roughly one-third of plans operating in any given state can sidestep these laws because they are federally regulated. Moreover, some of these states only provide protections from one of dental or vision plans but not both.

AOA’s member doctors of optometry and students are encouraged to urge their U.S. House members to co-sponsor the bill. Visit AOA’s Online Legislative Action Center for more information on supporting optometry’s priority issues.

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Press Releases

Charmant USA Announces Eddie Bauer Contest Winner

It provides one lucky customer with an all-expenses-paid-adventure of their choice.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MORRIS PLAINS, NJ – Charmant USA Inc. has announced the winner from its 2019 Eddie Bauer Live Your Adventure contest, providing one lucky customer with an all-expenses-paid-adventure of their choice.

Dr. Mark Bowers of Blountville Family Eyecare in Blountville, TN, and his wife, Amanda Bowers, will be enjoying an adventure of their choosing in Oregon in August. The trip includes a four-day, three-night stay. They were able to select from one of four locations: Maine, Oregon, Arizona or Colorado.

The contest was based on Eddie Bauer eyewear purchases; every frame purchased from Charmant between Jan. 28 and April 30 earned customers one entry into a drawing. Every customer who purchased 20 or more Eddie Bauer frames earned double entries. The drawing was held on May 31, and the winner was announced in June.

Jean Simone, Charmant’s vice president of sales, said, “We are happy to see this trip go to a great customer. We hope they enjoy their adventure and look forward to hearing all about the trip upon their return.”

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CooperVision’s Joel Kamp Promoted to Executive Role at Paragon Vision Sciences

Promotion comes following his success as a director of corporate accounts in the same company.

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(PRESS RELEASE) PHOENIX — In a move that will further strengthen Paragon Vision Science’s expansion across the United States, the company has appointed Joel Kamp as U.S. commercial director. This promotion comes following his success as a director of corporate accounts at CooperVision, where he focused on customer partnerships, satisfaction and growth. Paragon is part of the CooperVision Specialty EyeCare division.

In the new role, Kamp has responsibility for sales and marketing strategy and execution, including enhanced support for eye care professional (ECP)-centered initiatives. Over the past several months, Paragon has established dedicated practice management and account management teams in Northern California, Southern California, New York/New Jersey, Houston/Dallas and Phoenix. This is in direct response to rising ECP demand for myopia education and support.

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“Joel’s 25 years of optometric and ophthalmological experience will help us further accelerate our growth and extend our myopia leadership in partnership with ECPs. We’re excited for him to play a significant role in shaping our in-market teams. That structure is unique, and specifically designed to promote practice expansion with the clinical support necessary for the successful adoption of specialty lenses,” said Rich Jeffries, president of Paragon.

Each regional Paragon team consists of an account manager and practice management consultant, who support ECPs to more fully integrate Paragon CRT and other contact lenses into their practices. This includes customized clinical educational experiences for individual practitioners and staff, with a focus on hands-on collaboration.

“These teams are already working with some of the top practices in the U.S.,” noted Jeffries. “We’re seeing ECPs suddenly much more aware of the extent of clinical support, education and marketing tools and insights available from Paragon.

The CooperVision Specialty EyeCare division accelerates eye care professionals’ access to innovative products that help improve the way people see each day, with a focus on the development of myopia management approaches and visual correction of irregular corneas. It encompasses Paragon Vision Sciences, Blanchard Contact Lenses, Soflex, and Procornea, which operate independently while sharing technical, clinical and commercial knowledge, benefitting from CooperVision’s global presence and infrastructure.

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