Dear Colleagues and Friends,
This 2017 Year in Review highlights some of the many established programs and new initiatives of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It is, however, by no means a comprehensive summary, given the total scope of our activities. The Academy is the largest professional membership association in global ophthalmology with over 32,000 members. Its educational programs and clinical guidelines are accessed by over 80,000 ophthalmologists worldwide. Its public-facing programs touch over three million people a month.
The Academy’s duty and obligation is therefore to serve communities, individuals and our profession in many different arenas. We are first and foremost an educational organization — dedicated to helping ophthalmologists acquire and sustain a very high level of professional quality. We achieve this through a number of programs —peer-reviewed scientific journals, the world’s largest annual meeting of ophthalmologists, a massive online learning resource, evidence-based clinical guidelines and much more. We recognize that different people learn differently — and we try to meet these varying learning styles. The Academy is also putting an increasingly large percentage of its learning tools outside of password-protected barriers — so they are accessible to everyone, including the public. Optimal health care involves active patient engagement. We wish to provide patients with informational resources from the most basic to the most complex and comprehensive. The Academy also bears an advocacy responsibility. Most societies are grappling with health care system redesign to reconcile the compelling objectives of access for all to necessary care of the highest quality at the lowest cost. We believe that ophthalmologists and ophthalmologic organizations (particularly the Academy) have a responsibility to contribute to policymaking affecting eye health, disease and treatment. If we abrogate this responsibility, others without our perspective, knowledge and experience will design the eye care system of tomorrow without us.
Our Academy must not only encourage and facilitate innovation by others, but should itself be an engine of innovation. Ten years ago, we launched the largest online compendium of scientific knowledge in any specialty — the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE) Network. It continues to evolve using new technologies of simulation and personalized learning plans. Four years ago, we launched what is now the world’s largest single-specialty clinical data registry — the IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight). Its goal is to provide real-world, real-time feedback to ophthalmologists on their clinical activity and improve quality of care. And we work with others — individuals and organizations — to bring new drugs, technologies and techniques to the clinic and operating room.
Finally, the Academy sets standards for its members and for itself not only for clinical care, but also for professionalism. This includes “walking the walk” with regard to ethics, identifying and managing conflicts of interest, promulgating policies based on scientific evidence, sustaining programs of mentoring and leadership development, encouraging a culture of welcoming and responsible individual behavior and above all, placing the patient first.
David W. Parke II, MD
Chief Executive Officer