The UMSL Group at AOA

While the reception and view of the eclipse was occurring at the College of Optometry, nearly 40 students and Assistant Dean Dr. Ed Bennett viewed it from the front yard of the American Optometric Association (AOA) headquarters. The AOA served lunch and ultimately served up a total eclipse.  Of course, it was brief but breathtaking, and it allowed the students to mingle with AOA staff.  The students, in particular, greatly enjoyed the event and the opportunity to embrace all that the AOA has to offer as Peter Jacques(’19), founder of an important AOA resource: optometrystudents.com comments.  “It was an amazing experience to be able to witness the eclipse surrounded by people who care so deeply about the health and wellbeing of people’s eyes; especially considering the tremendous risk to the public of looking directly at the sun.

Leslie Kinder and Jenny Belken are getting ready

It was very inspiring to see the AOA spending resources for public awareness of eclipse safety. Thanks to the efforts of the AOA and AOA member optometrists, millions of people across the county were able to view the eclipse safely. It is times like these that the value of organized optometry shines through.

As a legislated profession, optometry must have a strong association to expand scope of practice and ultimately improve the lives and vision of patients. The AOA is especially important to protect public safety. People’s vision and health are at risk from private interests looking to capitalize on patients who may be unaware of certain health risks as healthcare continues to evolve. It is imperative that optometrists remain involved in organized optometry for the health and wellbeing of their patients.”

Ed Bennett and interested students and spouses in anticipation of the big event

AOSA finalist for the upcoming President position Kate Hamm(’19) agrees: “It was an awesome event that brought together ODs, students, faculty, community members and families for a once in a lifetime event. The streaming of the weather channel and NASA and so many other broadcasts while enjoying delicious food made the event more special than it already was.  AOA taking the lead to educate the community during the eclipse made me feel proud to be an Optometrist. AOA was featured on so many news broadcasts and articles while still making each student feel empowered to share their own knowledge and input.

Ed Bennett with Linda Wulf and Linda Boyland from the American Optometric Association

AOA overall empowers each OD to take control of their own practice and profession. Every meeting, piece of legislation, benefit, website tool, and e-mail is made to empower current and future optometrists. AOA stands for all the best parts of optometry and the best interest of every patient. Hosting events like the eclipse party shows AOA’s dedication to making sure optometrists and students alike are cared for so we are able to best care for our patients.”


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