AOSA President Erick Henderson (SCO) addresses students at AOA's Congressional Advocacy Conference, joining AOA President Steven Loomis, O.D. and President-elect Andrea Thau, O.D.,

AOSA President Erick Henderson (SCO) addresses students at AOA’s Congressional Advocacy Conference, joining AOA President Steven Loomis, O.D. and President-elect Andrea Thau, O.D.,

Advocates for optometry took a united message directly to Capitol Hill and federal agency officials April 19 — that AOA doctors and AOSA/AOA-member students will do whatever it takes to better safeguard patient health and ensure that millions more Americans have expanded access to the doctor of optometry-provided comprehensive eye and vision health care services that they need.

More than 300 doctors and 300 students convened in Washington, D.C., April 17-19, as part of the 2016 AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference to focus the national spotlight on the needs of patients and advocate for the profession’s top priorities, including better safeguarding contact lens wearers against increasing abuses of online resellers, confronting anti-patient, anti-doctor vision and health plan mandates, and ensuring that more Americans—including our nation’s veterans—have access to the primary eye and vision health care services that doctors of optometry provide.

For the first time, optometry students who went to Washington, DC, as advocates for their future profession received travel grants from the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).

“The AOSA takes pride in the strong support for advocacy shown by students across the country,” said Erick Henderson, AOSA President. “Ten percent of students contribute to AOA’s Political Action Committee and the combined contribution is more than $20,000.”

In addition to visiting Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and key staff, many students said highlights of the meeting included hearing U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove speak.

New York optometrists including AOA President-elect AndreaThau, O.D. and SUNY students on Capitol Hill.

New York optometrists including AOA President-elect AndreaThau, O.D. and SUNY students on Capitol Hill.

Nevada optometrists and students from Southern California College of Optometry and Western University College of Optometry on their way to Capitol Hill.

Nevada optometrists and students from Southern California College of Optometry and Western University College of Optometry on their way to Capitol Hill.

Illinois optometrists and optometry students meet with U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL9)

Illinois optometrists and optometry students meet with U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL9)