By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

Three days of information, camaraderie and glimpses of the future could certainly feel like a dream. But it was real at OAA Leadership 2022. The live meetings had been suspended for two years, and there was genuine joy in greeting people in person after what seemed like a very long time and renewing connections. A special moment for me was meeting our own Ms. Specs! And it was exciting to see and touch the variety of frames and sunglasses at vendors’ displays, since I usually see them only in pictures.

It’s hard to know where to start summarizing the wealth of information from Leadership Presentations, Committee Reports and Breakout Sessions, but I’ll try. Keynote Speaker, Dr. Ryan Parker revealed that the number of patients needing vision care will soon exceed the number of ODs and MDs available to care for them. To fill the gap, he explained the need for ECPs to evolve into tele-eyecare, while preserving the patient/provider relationship. Dr. Parker also presented insights into the growing problem of myopia. It is critical to begin measures to control myopia when it begins in young children, with attention to increasing axial length rather than prescription strength. Special design spectacle and contact lenses that have been shown to slow eyeball elongation are emerging.

An OAA panel discussion addressed Diversity in Leadership. There are 75 thousand opticians in the US, and the panel will be seeking ways to ensure diversity, inclusion, and equity in professional optician groups. I add with pride that the panel cited Jobson reports as providing “a statistical encyclopedia” of the industry.

In addition to leadership presentations were the breakout sessions. They are always fun and informative, addressing Personal Growth, National Impact, State Societies, Guild Advancement, Leadership in the Workplace, and Student/Apprentices. It was hard to choose which to attend! One I attended was Personal Growth, Hakuna Matada, in which I learned that “we can’t wish to be someone else because they’re already taken,” and there are ways to manage stress, rather than let it define our lives to become who we really are.

The OAA motto, Pride, Power, Progress, sums up the way to advance our profession. People need to know who we are and what we do, and the OAA with its member state associations gets that message out. What’s more, the OAA has a plethora of resources for members to enhance the impact our profession has on society. Join your state association and encourage them to partner with the OAA. If your state doesn’t have an association, the OAA Membership committee has a team of professionals and all the tools you need to initiate one. Pride, power, progress – dream them into action!