• American Academy of Ophthalmology Honors Luminaries in Medical and Surgical Eye Care

    Physicians honored at AAO 2018 for exceptional service to patients and the profession

    CHICAGO –  Oct. 28, 2018 – The American Academy of Ophthalmology is honoring exceptional ophthalmologists whose contributions have improved patient care and advanced the profession. They have distinguished themselves in a wide variety of pursuits, from humanitarian service and entrepreneurial achievement to mentorship and volunteer service. These leaders in the field of medical and surgical eye care will be honored at AAO 2018, the Academy’s 122nd annual meeting in Chicago.

    The Laureate Recognition Award is the most prestigious of these honors, recognizing an ophthalmologist who had made exceptional scientific contributions toward preventing blindness and restoring sight worldwide. This year’s recipient is educator and innovator Steven T. Charles, M.D.

    Dr. Charles has been a leader and catalyst for advances in vitreoretinal surgery since its introduction in the 1970s. He is a principal architect for the instrumentation used by the vast majority of retinal surgeons across the globe. His prolific career as a physician-inventor has resulted in more than 100 already-issued or pending patents, which include vitreous cutters, intraocular micro instruments, operating microscope systems, foot pedals and robotic systems to facilitate surgery.

    In addition to his contributions to ophthalmology, Dr. Charles pioneered the development of robots for dexterity enhancement that are used for minimally invasive joint replacement, spine surgery and skull-based neurosurgery.

    “Dr. Charles is an icon whose impact on the medical world extends well beyond the ophthalmology community,” said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “He has played an important and vital role in advancing patient care by leading the innovation of some of the most transformational tools and techniques within eye care. The impact of his contributions have benefited physicians and patients across medicine.”

    Other awards to be presented during AAO 2018 include:

    The Distinguished Service Award honors an individual or organization for ongoing notable service. This year’s award goes to the Directors of Medical School Education in Ophthalmology. Recognized for their work in educating future physicians in the core knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate the visual systems, these educators provide a strong ophthalmic foundation for medical students. The knowledge gained by these medical students helps them better recognize, manage and refer eye injuries and diseases for treatment, resulting in better patient outcomes.

    The Special Recognition Award is given to an individual or organization for outstanding service in a specific effort or cause that improves the quality of eye care. This year’s recipient is the National Medical Association. The National Medical Association is committed to improving the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged people through its membership, professional development, community health education, advocacy, research and partnerships with federal, academic and private agencies. Throughout its history, the association has focused primarily on health issues related to African Americans and medically underserved populations. However, its principles, goals, initiatives and philosophy encompass all ethnic groups.

    The Outstanding Advocate Award recognizes ophthalmologists who participate in advocacy-related efforts at the state or federal level. This year’s awardee is Bradley C. Black M.D. Dr. Black developed collaborative relationships with groups who care for children’s vision, such as the National Association of School Nurses. His work helped AAPOS call upon school nurses to support vision screening programs and to oppose mandatory comprehensive eye exams for children and vision therapy legislation. As president of the Louisiana Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, during the height of their scope of practice battles with optometry from 2013 to 2015, Dr. Black was in the thick of the fight.

    The Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award recognizes ophthalmologists whose contributions to charitable activities demonstrate their concern and care for needy populations. The Academy is privileged to honor David Heiden, M.D. and William L. White:

    • David Heiden, M.D.: Dr. Heiden is being recognized for his efforts to improve eye health for some of the world’s most under-resourced populations. His groundbreaking collaborative training with primary care physicians convinced doctors across the world to believe in themselves, resulting in the creation of a sustainable model of care for the prevention of blindness in patients with HIV/AIDS.
    • William L. White, M.D.: Dr. White purchased property and built an eye clinic in Haiti, the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. His work has provided ophthalmic service to people who have none. For more than 15 years, along with other volunteers, he has performed thousands of surgeries and tens of thousands of examinations free of charge.

    The International Blindness Prevention Award is given to an ophthalmologist who has made significant contributions to restoring sight throughout the world. This year’s recipient is Jacob Pe’er, M.D. Dr. Pe’er’s clinical and research interests center on the fields of ocular oncology and ophthalmic pathology. Since 1980, Dr. Pe’er has been involved in the education of ophthalmologists from developing countries. He has created awareness of the challenges that ophthalmologists face in these countries through his commitment to building capacity and strengthening eye care services in the developing world.

    The Straatsma Award acknowledges excellence in resident education and is given jointly by the Academy and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology to a program director dedicated to the principles and significance of residency education. This year’s award goes to Preston Blomquist, M.D. Dr. Blomquist is a professor of Ophthalmology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and holds the Dr. W. Maxwell Thomas Chair in Ophthalmology. He is a comprehensive ophthalmologist whose research interests include resident surgical training and ocular trauma. He serves as vice chair for Education and has been the residency program director since 2002. The ophthalmology residency training program at UT Southwestern is the largest in the nation, and Dr. Blomquist has been the program director for 163 residents to date.

    The Artemis Award recognizes a young ophthalmologist who has demonstrated caring and service of an exemplary degree to his/ her patients. This year, Camila Ventura, M.D., Ph.D. is being recognized. Dr. Ventura first reported the ocular findings in babies affected by the Zika virus during pregnancy as part of the 2015 Zika virus outbreak in Brazil. Her studies specifically address the structural damage caused to the eye by the Zika virus, the pathophysiology behind these manifestations, the short and long-term effects of these findings on vision and babies’ response to early intervention treatment. Dr. Ventura is currently the head of the Department of Clinical Research at the Altino Ventura Foundation.

    The EnergEYES Award honors an ophthalmologist who demonstrates exemplary leadership skills by energizing others to improve ophthalmology. This individual is one who mentors young ophthalmologists, serves as a strong role model, and displays high energy that motivates them to get involved. This year’s recipient is Julia A. Haller, M.D. Dr. Haller has served as an enthusiastic mentor and effective role model to residents and young ophthalmologists through her leadership roles in both academic and organized medicine. Dr. Haller has dedicated many years to resident education while energizing and motivating YOs to provide the best treatment to patients and to serve their profession of ophthalmology.

    Every year, Guests of Honor are chosen by the Board of Trustees for their contribution to the field of ophthalmology and the Academy. This year, president Keith D. Carter, M.D. is honoring:

    Wallace L. M. Alward, M.D.: Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, where he is also the Frederick C. Blodi Chair in Ophthalmology, Vice-Chair of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, and director of the UIHC Glaucoma Service.

    Paul R. Lichter, M.D.: Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, immediate past chair of the department and founding director of the University’s W.K. Kellogg Eye Center.

    Jeffrey A. Nerad, M.D.: Professor of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, for more than 20 years. He was the director of the Oculoplastic and Orbital Surgery Service, before joining the Cincinnati Eye Institute in 2009.

    “The dedication and hard work of this outstanding group of eye physicians and surgeons is inspiring,” said Keith D. Carter, M.D., Academy president. “Each, in their own way, has advanced our profession and improved the lives of millions of patients.”


    About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.