Our Investment in the Future
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, in 2019–20, the Academy doubled down on investing in education, technology and outreach. We shared knowledge and expanded access to ophthalmic resources. We grew programs that make a difference for patients and practices today, and that set up communities for eye health for generations to come.
Read below for a preview of the ways donor generosity supported our programs in the past year.
View the full 2019 Annual Report (PDF) for complete stories, the Foundation Advisory Board roster, donor lists, financial information and ways to give.
A Letter From the Academy CEO
Dear colleagues and friends of the Academy,
As 2020 started, we anticipated a yearlong celebration of “The Year 2020”—a number that we all associate with vision and with ophthalmology. It was to be a year to highlight special scientific accomplishments and dedicated people. We all know what happened instead. The pandemic has impacted virtually all elements of our lives. We have lost friends and colleagues, and the economic and social devastation will endure for far too long. A very close, collegial community has largely pivoted to ‘virtual’. We will all welcome the end of social distancing in 2021.
Celebrating a Pivotal Year
Dear Foundation donors and friends,
It is our honor on behalf of the Foundation Advisory Board to present our 2019–2020 Annual Report.
2020 was supposed to be a seminal celebratory year for eye health. But as we all know all too well, due to COVID-19 we have all been forced to adapt to new ways of living and practicing. We have witnessed courage, fortitude, and self-sacrifice in the midst of economic setbacks. Despite all we have dealt with, you, our members and donors, stepped up and provided generous support to invest in the programs we have built and sustain.
Donor Support Ensured the World’s Source for Ophthalmic Knowledge Got Bigger
We added hundreds more videos, news and CME activities to the Academy’s Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network. Because when more ophthalmologists have access to more knowledge, the future is brighter for our patients and communities. Donor support ensures that ONE Network access remains free of cost to all Academy members.
The IRIS Registry Saved Sight and Dollars
Through the IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight), another free member benefit, ophthalmologists review and utilize data to improve patient outcomes—and take advantage of convenient reporting for MIPS quality measures. Last year, that reporting led to $280 million in savings for U.S. Academy members—an average of $28,121 each in avoided penalties.
The New Museum of the Eye Prepared to Make History
When the Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye™ opens in 2021, it will be the only free, permanent, public collection of ophthalmic artifacts in the world. With immense gratitude to our donors, we've surpassed more than $11 million in donations to make the vision a reality. Donor contributions will ensure that the museum continues to showcase ophthalmology free to the public in perpetuity.
Our Education Spanned the Globe
Through the Rotary Club Host Project and the Education Distribution Project, the Academy extended educational opportunities and resources to our colleagues around the world, including hosting 46 ophthalmologists at AAO 2019 and providing ONE Network access to 65 developing countries. Projects like these elevate the standard of living for millions—and donor generosity makes that possible.
EyeCare America Rewrote the Future for At-Risk Patients
EyeCare America® continued its legacy of service for those in our own communities. Last year, 4,970 volunteer ophthalmologists took 10,094 referrals for eye exams for at-risk seniors and others, improving patients’ quality of life and, in many cases, saving their sight. Volunteer today.
Catharine Clark Rising Bequeaths Substantial Amount to the Foundation
We are honored to announce a very generous donation to the American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation. Upon her death in January 2017, Catharine Clarke Rising, PhD, bequeathed $500,000 of her estate to support the Academy’s educational, quality-of-care and service programs.
David J. Harris Jr., MD, FACS
I financially support the Foundation because I am grateful.
From the moment I started my residency at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, the Academy has played an important role in my lifelong education as an ophthalmologist. I want current and future ophthalmologists to be stimulated by career-spanning enrichment of knowledge, just as I have. (And I will admit: Having a daughter and son who are also AAO members certainly encourages me to think seriously about the future of ophthalmology!)
Richard P. Mills, MD, MPH, Past President of the Academy
Dr. Richard Mills, whose impact on ophthalmology as a physician, teacher and leader were immeasurable, died on May 9 from complications of COVID-19. He was 76.
For more than three decades, Dr. Mills was an integral part of Academy leadership, most notably as EyeNet® Magazine chief medical editor, EyeCare America chair and Academy president. His 14 years of EyeNet columns were legendary, with a total of 148 opinion pieces that combined medicine, music, philosophy, lexicography and mythology with pop culture references—all the while shedding light on important issues facing ophthalmology.
Jay M. Galst, MD, Collector, Historian and Philanthropist
Dr. Jay Galst passed away peacefully at the age of 69 after a brave battle with coronavirus.
Dr. Galst was a Manhattan private practitioner who also made important contributions to ophthalmology as a teacher, historian and philanthropist. He was a clinical professor at the New York Medical College and a senior attending surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. An avid coin collector, Dr. Galst specialized in coins of Judea and ophthalmology. He served as president and board member of the New York Numismatic Club, was a life fellow of the American Numismatic Society, and president of the Bronx Coin Club.