Former AOA President Richard L. Wallingford Jr. Passes Away

By Staff
Monday, February 27, 2017 12:27 AM
ST. LOUIS.—Richard L. Wallingford Jr., OD, has passed away after a years-long battle with cancer, the American Optometric Association (AOA) announced on its website late last week.

Dr. Wallingford, who served as the 84th president of AOA in the years 2005-2006, was “an exceptionally caring doctor, a visionary leader for the profession and a powerful voice on the national stage for expanded patient access to optometric care,” the AOA announcement noted.

“Dr. Wallingford bravely battled cancer since 2000, and through it continued his service on the AOA board and to the optometric profession—and our patients—with an unmatched attention to detail and insight,” AOA president Andrea P. Thau, OD, said in the statement. “He engaged everyone he met with optimism and warmth, and I was honored to call him a friend.”

Upon completing his term as president at AOA’s 109th annual meeting in Las Vegas, Wallingford told Vision Monday that the milestone he considered the most important accomplishment during his term was Congress’ passage of an amendment to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. The amendment included language that defined non-prescription and decorative contact lenses as medical devices under the law. “That was something we’d been working in Washington for over several years,” he told Vision Monday at the time.

Wallingford also took pride in the AOA’s role in providing information, via its website, following an outbreak of a fungal infection affecting contact lens wearers. “This was the first major health outbreak where the AOA was the primary spokesman,” he said at the time.

In addition to AOA, Dr. Wallingford was actively involved and had a record of accomplishment with the Maine Optometric Association, according to AOA. Dr. Wallingford is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their children and grandchildren.

“The AOA family—especially the generations of volunteers and member doctors who were fortunate enough to know and work with him—maintains a deep and lasting respect for Dr. Wallingford’s dedication to furthering the profession and patient eye health and vision care,” AOA noted.