Diana Canto-Sims, OD, (l) and Lawrence Chavez.

Founded in 2021 to help the Latino community navigate the optical industry, Latinos En Optometry (LEO) was slowed by the pandemic but is now in the process of a full launch and currently seeking to expand membership, sponsorship, events and engagement in the year ahead, according to the group. The non-profit organization will support Latino optometry students, provide resources and communications for Latinos in optometry and the eyecare community who serve the Latino community. The group intends to act as a conduit between the Latino community and the eyecare industry, and provide continuing education to all of optometry.

Diana Canto-Sims, OD, CEO and founder of La Vida Eyewear and co-owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, and Lawrence Chavez, founder and CEO of EveryDay Contacts, Inc., are the founding members of LEO.

"Latinos En Optometry is a labor of love," said Canto-Sims. "Lawrence and I are passionate about increasing the number of Latinos attending optometry school, improving equity in eyecare for Latinos and supporting all who serve the Latino community."

 Diana Canto-Sims, OD, and co-founder of Latinos En Optometry, extends an invitation to become members or sponsors of the non-profit organization that helps the Latino community navigate the optical industry.
After the initial launch in 2021, the pandemic prevented the group from actively engaging with potential members in order to build the LEO community. Instead, the group chose to delay the public launch until 2023 with a renewed drive for new members and sponsors.

“We are excited to begin building Latinos En Optometry and sharing the resources and connections that will help better address the eyecare needs of the Latino community and especially the doctors who serve the Latino community,” said Chavez. “We are committed to creating generational change to better serve the needs of Latinos now and 20 years from now,” Chavez said.

The group is providing networking and mentoring through membership and there will soon be a listing of members available for both students and professionals. Tools are being developed to help communicate with Spanish language patients and those who speak English as a second language. These tools will be available to any member who serves the Latino community, according to the group. Membership is free for students.

The group is just now beginning its membership drive and will be sending out its first newsletter in April. LEO is also actively recruiting student advocates on all optometry school campuses and plans to host events on all campuses. The group is also currently seeking sponsors who will support the goals of LEO.

Along with Chavez and Canto-Sims, the board of Latinos En Optometry includes Howard Purcell, OD, president and CEO of the New England College of Optometry; Hector Santiago, OD, PhD, professor and director of research activities at Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry; Glenda Aleman-Moheeputh, OD, founder and CEO of OK Love Myopia Control Experts; Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, senior vice president clinical and professional affairs at BostonSight; and Diana Shechtman, OD, Fellow at the American Academy of Optometry and Optometric Retinal Society.