Outgoing SECO president, James Herman, OD, (l) with incoming president, Stan Dickerson, OD.

ATLANTA—More than 7,000 optometry professionals attended SECO 2015 last week at the Georgia World Congress Center, March 4 to 8, 2015, for networking, education and much more. Held under the theme “Where Sight Meets Vision,” the 92nd annual meeting featured more than 100 speakers presenting over 250 continuing education (CE) courses, a vibrant exhibit hall, and more than 50 social and affiliate events. In addition, the 2015 SECO International slate of officers were selected, and many honored professionals were presented with awards.

SECO’s new officers are Stan Dickerson, OD, president, of Columbia, Tenn.; Ted McElroy, OD, president-elect, of Tifton, Ga.; Lynn Hammonds, OD, vice president, of Birmingham, Ala.; Emilio Balius, OD, treasurer, of Coral Gables, Fla.; J. Max Ernst, OD, secretary, of Alexandria, Ky.; and James Herman, OD, immediate past president, of Hurricane, W.V.

During the House of Delegates meeting, Richard Phillips, OD, FAAO, was named Optometrist of the South, SECO’s highest honor; Rob Pate, OD, received SECO’s Young Optometrist of the South award; and Caroline Riggins, CPO, was named Paraoptometric of the South.

SECO, specializing in education and acclaimed as “The Education Destination,” featured more than 180 hours of CE, six Special Sessions, and three free Symposium Series lunches.

The Allied Ophthalmic Professionals (AOP) Program offered more than 140 courses, providing 190 hours of education for opticians, paraoptometrics, ophthalmic technicians and administrative staff. A General Session about “Amazing Ocular Technologies for Today and the Future,” presented by Peter Kehoe, OD; William Underwood, PhD; Michael Ward, MMSc, FAAO, FCLSA; and Lynn Lawrence, CPOT, ABOC, CCA; focused on three vital areas of the ophthalmic and optical professions, as well as how and why the profession has changed dramatically in the last decade.

SECO 2015 also offered 15 Team-Centered Learning courses that examined issues facing the entire practice, such as practice management, technology integration and compliance. In addition, professionals were invited to participate in hands-on Learning Labs and take advantage of certification review courses, such as CPO Prep and POA/CPOT/COA Prep.

More than 200 vendors participated in the exhibit hall, which featured “The View” pavilion showcasing luxury eyewear. Here, there were more CE opportunities from the Advanced Media Learning Center’s 100 multimedia educational posters, which offered attendees the opportunity to earn as many as three hours of COPE CE.

Regarding the event’s extensive educational offerings, outgoing SECO International president, James Herman, said, “SECO has always been a visionary in our profession and will once again provide cutting-edge optometric education that draws attendees from around the globe and prepares them to deliver the best possible patient care.”

The Student Program offered students complimentary admission to all OD continuing education, including Special Sessions, and the Symposium Series, and a $100 cash stipend to offset attendance costs. Students also attended a Vistakon-sponsored Future Professionals Forum, where they had a chance to win one of four $1,000 scholarships just for attending. The winners were Brittany McNeely, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, Class of 2015; Sandra Vu, Southern College of Optometry, Class of 2018; Hannah Woodke, Michigan College of Optometry, Class of 2015; Emma Wilhite Scott, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, Class of 2018.

An Optometry Student Party sponsored by Hoya on Friday night offered networking opportunities for the future optometrists in attendance.

Among the more than 50 social and affiliate events, ranging from optometry school alumni receptions to parties, were the Downtown Dine-Around on Wednesday night, the Essilor-sponsored AOP Party on Friday night for Allied Ophthalmic Professionals, and the “Saturday Night, Under the Lights” Party (also sponsored by Essilor, as well as the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau), featuring tailgating food, fun and live music by Natalie Stovall and The Drive, at the new College Football Hall of Fame.

During a dinner hosted by Review of Optometry, the Rick Bay Foundation (posthumously named for the magazine’s former publisher/president) presented scholarships to optometry student, Paige Mullins, of the class of 2015 of Salus University, and Naomi J. Warner, DO, a fellow in pediatric ophthalmology with the Wills Eye Institute. Also honored at the Review of Optometry dinner, Jimmy Bartlett, OD, DOS, ScD, FAAO, was presented with the magazine’s Visionary Award by Paul Karpecki, OD, with commentary on the honoree’s accomplishments by Frank Fontana, OD.

SECO 2015 is produced by SECO International, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Council of Optometrists, Inc. SECO International, headquartered here, is a not-for-profit association founded in 1923 with a global membership of approximately 25,000. The annual SECO Congress regularly attracts more than 7,000 national and international eyecare professionals, vendors and allied ophthalmic personnel.

For a slideshow of SECO 2015, click here: Thousands Attend SECO 2015, the 92nd Annual Meeting for ECPs in Atlanta.