CHARLOTTE, N.C.—From its origins in 1969, the National Optometric Association (NOA) has been working to provide a voice to Black optometrists, and it wasn’t always an easy road. More than 50 years later, the NOA is still the largest optometric association representing minority providers. Its charitable work, education and outreach efforts have only increased.

“Today, 50 years after the founding of the NOA, our mission and mandate remain as relevant as ever. We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to continue the fight for representation and inclusion in our profession,” said Sherrol A. Reynolds, OD, FAOO, NOA president.

Dr. Reynolds and other NOA members have been very visible this year as discussions about diversity and equity in culture, in health care and in the vision care field have been amplified. In addition to sessions with today’s optometry students at various schools and colleges of optometry, the NOA has taken part in many dialogues, including the collaboration with The Vision Council’s EYE2EYE virtual panel session: Black-Owned Eyewear Vendors: How to Find and Partner with Them—featured five Black eyewear entrepreneurs.

In conjunction with the National Optometric Student Association, NOA’s Town Halls this year discussed diversity, equity and inclusion problems that NOSA students have experienced in their training and clinical practice as well as a session seeking solutions to these.

The NOA’s 2021 Convention, July 9-11, will be virtual this year. The group will also take part with a regional meeting at the upcoming Vision Expo East in Orlando next month, offering a series of courses.