by Micaela Crowley, Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry National Liaison to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section

by Micaela Crowley, Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
National Liaison to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section

As your current AOA CLCS National Liaison, I feel it’s my obligation to tell you about seven of the coolest, smartest and hardest-working people I’ve met. They happen to be leaders of the best facet of optometry (personal opinion, although I would argue fact) and comprise the AOA CLCS Council.

I’d probably embarrass myself if I admitted how much I know about their individual contact lens‐related achievements, so I’ll share some of what they do together and why you should accept their invitation to Join the Fight!

1. They advocate for protecting patients from unsafe contact lens sales. It’s 2015 and you’re an optometry student. I’d bet my entire first year salary you’ve heard or read at least one disaster story about purchasing contact lenses without a valid prescription. Many people simply don’t know the magnitude of the risk.

According to the 2015 AOA Eye‐Q Survey, 12 percent of people who purchased contact lenses online and 26 percent who purchased decorative/color contacts did not have a prescription from a doctor. That’s a lot of people!

This is exactly where we, as optometry students, should be active in AOA CLCS. Don’t be afraid to report every single illegal contact lens sale you see to stopillegalCLs@aoa.org. Report online websites, department stores or gas stations selling contact lenses illegally. Yes, we have found gas stations selling contacts.

The reality is strength comes in numbers and with irrefutable evidence. It is therefore crucial we work as a team to advocate for our future patients.

As the AOA CLCS Chair Jeff Walline, O.D., said, “Help protect our patients by fighting against those who are putting our patients at harm.”

2. They educate patients on public health issues regarding contact lenses. I highly recommend you visit www.contactlenssafety.org if you haven’t already. The AOA CLCS created this website in conjunction with the American Academy of Optometry to provide scientific and evidence‐ based answers to consumer questions regarding contact lens safety.

A wide range of information can be found on the site, including replacement schedules, proper care for lens cases, purchasing contact lenses, and contact lens wear in different environments. If anything, I’d check it out before your first day of contact lens clinic rotation. You may read information that will really impress your preceptor!

3. They advocate for appropriate scope of practice for contact lens practitioners. Imagine an optometric practice where you aren’t allowed to insert or remove contact lenses because you’re presumed to cause harm to the patient. Point proven. Moving on.

4. They educate doctors on best practices in contact lens management. The AOA CLCS Council is constantly providing continuing education courses, guest lectures and articles revealing innovative approaches to contact lens care and practice. You may recognize their names or areas of expertise:

  • The king of myopia control ‐ Dr. Jeff Walline
  • Scleral lenses and OCT imaging ‐ Dr. Jeffrey Sonsino
  • The RGP guru ‐ Dr. Edward Bennett
  • The STAPLE CL workshops at all optometry schools‐ Dr. Shalu Pal
  • Preparing the anterior segment for contact lenses ‐ Dr. Pamela Lowe
  • CL practice management ‐ Dr. Jason Compton
  • Presbyopia and multifocal contact lenses ‐ Dr. Thomas Quinn

5. Most important for us, they genuinely and passionately help students strengthen their presence in the contact lens world. Here are a few things AOA CLCS membership offers you. Take advantage while it’s FREE and automatic enrollment as part of your AOSA/AOA member benefits!

  • Help in developing CL skills
  • Mentorship
  • Help to find a practice specializing in CL to shadow
  • Network with CL experts in optometry
  • Guided learning of specialty lens fitting
  • Educational resources to improve basic CL fitting and care techniques

If all of this information isn’t enough to make you want to “Join the Fight,” do it to hang out with hilarious and fun people. I promise it will be a highlight of your academic career.