On February 21st and 22nd, the 2020 COA House of Delegates met for its annual meeting in Los Angeles, California and our society showed strong representation. I am proud to announce that our society won the award for 2019 “Society of The Year”! We must thank our past president, Dr. Robert Grazian, and the 2019 SDCOS board for their dedication, leadership, and creativity in helping to set our society apart from the rest.
Our society is also very well represented on the COA board this year, and THREE of our members were sworn in as COA executive board members. Our new COA President, Dr. Jason Tu, a long-time member and past-president of SDCOS, was officially installed and gave a wonderful address to the House. We know he will do a great job! Dr. Amanda Dexter, our current SDCOS board member and past-president of SDCOS, was also elected as Secretary/Treasurer and we are so proud of her! A contested election of Trustees resulted in our very own Dr. Erin Swift being re-elected as COA Trustee for a second term. Congratulations Dr. Swift!
Another topic discussed at House of Delegates was AOA’s national public awareness campaign, “Think About Your Eyes”, or “TAYE”. This campaign was designed to educate the general public on the benefits of vision health and promote the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams. California delegates voted to continue to actively participate in this campaign, and with our help and added resources, we will continue to propel this campaign to even greater heights in 2020.
This month is “National Save Your Vision Month”, and the AOA is promoting awareness around digital eyestrain and the importance of receiving regular comprehensive eye exams from a doctor of Optometry. The campaign is focused primarily on blue light’s impact on overall health. According to 2016 AOA Eye-Q survey data, the average American spends seven hours per day using digital devices. This overexposure to blue light from digital devices over extended periods of time can lead to vision damage, disrupted sleep cycle, and more. As Optometrists, it is our duty to educate our patients about the signs and symptoms of digital eyestrain. These include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck/shoulder pain. The AOA recommends five tips that can be easily implemented in office spaces.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
- Keep a distance: The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and your back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
- View from a different angle: Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
- Decrease glare: While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
- Blink often: Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently.
I would encourage our society’s optometrists to educate themselves about these national campaigns to reinforce the OD’s distinction as primary eye care physicians. You can capitalize on the growing conversation in consumer media by factoring these campaigns into your practice’s marketing strategy. Materials such as customizable articles, press releases, and social media content are available on AOA’s website.
The next COA event will be Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 22nd. I encourage everyone to join us on this trip to the capitol. There are important discussions that need to take place with our legislators regarding bills that could potentially threaten our profession, as well as bills that could allow the expansion of our scope of practice. Please let me know if you are interested in participating. The more representation we have, the stronger our voice will be!