APHA award winners include renowned ODs

September 11, 2013

The American Public Health Association’s Vision Care Section announced its 2013 award winners. The awards for Distinguished Service, Outstanding Scientific Paper, Morton W. Silverman Outstanding Student Project, and the Melvin D. Shipp Best Abstract will be presented during the AOA-sponsored Vision Care Section Eye Opener Breakfast at the APHA annual meeting in November.

Distinguished Service Award
Norma Bowyer, O.D., MPH

The distinguished service award will be presented to Dr. Norma Bowyer, who has been involved with many aspects of public health during her storied career. Over the past three decades, she has consistently demonstrated a firm commitment to tackling prominent public health issues, addressing vision health disparities, and providing strategic areas of consideration. There are few individuals who have promoted public health with her tenacity, depth of character, and level of fervent commitment to health care policy, particularly as it relates to disparities in blindness and visual impairment.

Dr. Bowyer worked vigorously for the inclusion of eye and vision health objectives within the nation’s public health agenda, Healthy People 2010, serving on numerous committees and testifying in support. At the state level, she led the charge in securing the inclusion of vision and eye health objectives in Healthy West Virginia 2010. The translation of the national vision objectives to state and local priorities was largely due to Dr. Bowyer’s commitment as co-chair of the state’s “Vision and Eye Health” chapter. She is representing eye care providers in the national Rural Healthy People 2020 consortium and is co-chair of her state’s 2010-2020 Workgroup.

Outstanding Scientific Project Award
Marc B. Taub, O.D., and Ashley Gentrup, O.D.

This award recognizes an individual, group, or institution that has contributed significantly to the advancement of eye/vision care in the public health field. This year’s outstanding project, “Investigation into the use of the FUNDS Program for Vision Therapy at Southern College of Optometry,” describes SCO’s vision therapy service, which assists patients in paying for this much-needed aspect of health care. Without this program, hundreds of children each year in the Memphis region would continue to struggle in school. This project highlights the success and difficulties of implementing a vision therapy scholarship program in an urban environment and investigates these issues related to poverty.

The Morton W. Silverman Outstanding Student Paper/Project Award
Lekha Samuel and Susan Evans

This award recognizes a student or group of students that has contributed significantly to the advancement of eye/vision care in the public health field from the perspective of a student in optometry, medicine, public health, or related health professions programs. This year’s outstanding student project is “Optometrists’ comfort in discussing patient health issues.” Over the past 30 years, the profession of optometry has increasingly moved in a medical direction. Optometrists now practice as part of multidisciplinary teams and even in the same offices as medical doctors, not only ophthalmologists. They are expected to treat a greater number of conditions and delve into patient history in greater depth than ever before. This study provides data as to whether this is actually happening in offices across the United States. Not surprisingly, comfort related to hypertension/ diabetes is the highest. that the project found fewer than 50 percent of optometrists routinely discuss obesity, stress and smoking, these topics must become a priority if optometrists are to be considered primary eye care providers. Optometry programs and those providing continuing education must also do a better job at educating their audiences of the importance of smoking/ weight/ nutrition/ exercise, and stress on visual health.

Melvin D. Shipp Best Abstract Award
Asel Ryskulova, M.D., MPH, Rosemary Janiszewski and Rebecca Hines

The best abstract award will go to “Healthy People 2020 vision objectives: Use of protective eyewear in recreational activities and hazardous situations around the home in the US.” Almost all eye injuries can be prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection. This study presents national data on use of protective eyewear to set the baseline and target for the Healthy People 2020 vision objectives.
Registration for the 141st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition Nov. 2-6 in Boston is available at www.apha.org/meetings/AnnualMeeting.

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