ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA), American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), and Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation announced the 2023 winners of the organizations’ annual awards, including the AOA awards, AOSA Student of the Year, National Optometry Hall of Fame, Dr. W. David Sullins Jr. InfantSEE Award, and Paraoptometric Professional awards. Award recipients will be honored throughout Optometry’s Meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 21-24, 2023. The AOA’s annual Doctor of Optometry awards for Optometric Educator of the Year, Distinguished Service, Optometrist of the Year and Young Optometrist of the Year are submitted by affiliate associations.

The 2023 award recipients include:

● Dr. Glen Steele, Tennessee – Distinguished Service Award
● Dr. Jon Pederson, Colorado – Optometrist of the Year
● Dr. Amy Puerto, Louisiana – Young Optometrist of the Year
● Dr. George Veliky, New Jersey – Optometric Educator of the Year

The AOA’s Apollo Award is the highest award presented to the general public. It honors persons or organizations for distinguished service to the visual welfare of the public. This year’s winner is the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) was founded in 2018 to advocate for patient safety and to protect and defend the doctor-patient relationship.

The AOSA Student of the Year Award recognizes optometry students in their third or fourth year of school who show leadership skills when serving their profession, patients and community. This year’s winner is Caitlin Parks, who is currently in her third year at Indiana University School of Optometry. As AOA-PAC liaison, she has taken an active role in communicating the importance of donating to the PAC and has organized different events to encourage donations. 

The National Optometry Hall of Fame recognizes and honors optometrists who are luminaries of the professions—those who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the optometric profession. The award is administered through Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation. This year’s winners include:

● Joseph Shovlin, OD
● Siu Wong, OD, MPH
● Mitchell Scheiman, OD, PhD

Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation also awards the Dr. W. David Sullins, Jr., InfantSEE Award, recognizing an individual doctor of optometry who has made significant contributions to optometry or the community for outstanding public service involving the InfantSEE program. This year’s winner is Andrea Thau, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, FNAP. Dr. Thau is one of the founders of AOA’s InfantSEE public health program and is a founding member and former VP of the New York Children’s Vision Coalition, a multi-disciplinary coalition dedicated to ensuring that every child in New York receives an eye examination prior to school entry.

Members were asked to submit an award nomination for a colleague or peer who embodies passion for the vision community and works to further the profession for the Paraoptometric Professional awards, including Paraoptometric of the Year, Paraoptometric Community Service and Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement Awards. The 2023 award recipients include:

● Brandy Yeack, Oregon – Paraoptometric of the Year
● Brianne Speaks, Mississippi – Paraoptometric Community Service

The AOA honored three winners of the Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement Award:

● Roberta Beers, Pennsylvania
● Beverly Roberts, Mississippi
● Erlinda Rodriguez, New Jersey