April 29, 2015
The 1st World Congress of Optometry will take place Aug. 14-16, 2015, in Medillin, Columbia, at the Plaza Mayor Convention and Exhibition Centre, with the theme, “Vision Health Knowledge for the World.”
Expected to attract more than 1,500 global optometric professionals, the World Congress of Optometry will include sponsorship from the US, including the American Optometric Association (AOA), the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), SECO International and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. The conference is the result of a collaborative effort between the World Council of Optometry (WCO) and its associate member, the Colombian Federation of Optometrists (FEDOPTO).
While the WCO held two separate conferences in the past (the World Optometric Education conference and the Globalisation conference) a WCO spokesperson told Vision Monday’s VMail: “In 2011 it was decided to merge both meetings into one. In 2013, WCO held its General Delegates Meeting alongside the European Academy meeting, but only now WCO is able to materialize the concept in partnership with one of its members, the Colombian Federation of Optometrists.
“This is the first World Congress of Optometry encompassing scientific, educators, public outreach, strategic and commercial aspects in one platform. The Congress also has the support of the Latin American Association of Optometry and Optics (ALDOO). The Congress represents a paradigm shift for WCO which will result in the event rotating to different parts of the globe biennially while ensuring sustainable support for the development of the profession.”
This year’s global event will include, “an innovative educators’ program, a public outreach fair and the most diverse commercial exhibit that WCO and FEDOPTO have ever hosted,” according to the spokesperson, who added, “Additionally the unique Presidential Forum will congregate the presidents of national optometric associations, deans and presidents of schools of optometry, leaders of the optical industry and research bodies, the World Health Organization and other key partners to discuss the impact of optometry and develop the optometric agenda of the future.” All main program sessions will be COPE-approved.
Lectures and seminars will be presented by leading experts from throughout the world including the AAO’s president, Brett G. Bence, OD, FAAO; the WCO’s treasurer and past president of the AOA and the Illinois College of Optometry, Peter Kehoe, OD, FAAO; Brien Holden Vision Institute’s Professor Brien Holden, BAppSc, PhD, DSc OAM; the School of Optometry at the University of Waterloo’s Professor Thomas Freddo, OD, PhD, FAAO; the Illinois College of Optometry’s Sandra Block, OD; the Southern College of Optometry’s Whitney Hauser, OD; international lecturers from the U.S., Randall Thomas, OD, MPH; Ron Melton, OD; and others.
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care will be the event’s headline sponsor, SECO is sponsoring one of the lecturers, and WCO members, the AOA and the AAO, are presenting lectures and facilitating the presence of two other lecturers, according to the event spokesperson.
About the AOA’s participation, president, David Cockrell, OD, told VMail, “The World Council of Optometry—which has a vital humanitarian, scientific and education mission—often looks to the advocacy and public health successes of our AOA and state associations for inspiration and guidance. The work WCO leaders do is important and is aimed at making a difference in countries still lacking access to essential eye health care services.”
“Since the FEDOPTO is an associate member of SECO, we were happy to provide a speaker for the 1st World Congress of Optometry in Colombia this year,” Stan Dickerson, OD, SECO’s president, told VMail. “As part of SECO’s mission to provide optometric continuing education worldwide, we have been sponsoring speakers at international optometry events for a number of years and are pleased to participate in this inaugural conference.”
During the Congress, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care will deliver a keynote lecture and will also address the Presidents’ Forum on Aug. 13. “At Johnson and Johnson Vision Care, we are committed to enabling eyecare professionals around the world to bring healthy vision to everyone, every day,” says Ian P. Davies, vice president of Global Professional Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. “We are delighted to be able to support this unique event, which will advance eyecare through education, clinical knowledge and the exchange of ideas and opinions among those at the forefront of delivery.”
“This support from a key partner in the optical industry is a clear confirmation of the importance of collaboration for the development of the profession and its role in the provision of quality eyecare across the world,” says Susan Cooper, president of the WCO.
The Second World Congress will be held in 2017. “There is a bidding process among WCO members currently going on, and it is expected that the new partners will be announced in Medellin during the closing ceremony,” the event spokesperson told VMail.