A new logo was designed for the AOCLE and was introduced in the newsletter (#14-February 1999) and all communications that followed. The newsletter, which was becoming a valuable networking resource for educators as well as industry members, due to its updated e-mail listing on the last page, was printed twice a year, following the American Academy of Optometry meeting and following the annual workshop held in the summer. Summaries of the workshops along with pictures as well as latest news from the industry enabled educators who cannot attend to stay abreast of new developments. Sections summarizing events of other CL organizations such as IACLE, AAO-Cornea & CL Section and the AOA-CL section was also included as a way to keep readers aware of the many meetings and educational tools available by other organizations.
The AOCLE website (www.aocle.org) was launched in 2000 with technical assistance by Neil Pence and housed at the Indiana University server. The site includes a directory of the north american schools/colleges of optometry, a phone/fax/e-mail directory of educators and industry representatives, the AOCLE Mission Statement and goals, Cornea and CL-related websites, electronic versions of previously published newsletters and hyperlinks to useful and valuable resources are also included.
During the annual business meetings, it was felt that AOCLE should promote its activities. An information poster was presented at the 1999 AAO meeting in Seattle by Bill Edmondson (NSU) and Etty Bitton (Montreal). The poster highlighted annual workshop themes, hosting schools, goals and achievements of the AOCLE, a time-line of educational tools developed for the advancement of contact lens education in North America and recognition to industry sponsors that have supported AOCLE over the years. Handouts promoting the website were also handed out during the meeting.
In 2000, Ciba Vision sponsored the mid-year planning meeting for the first time. They’ve been a sponsor of that meeting ever since. The second World Congress on Contact Lens Education, co-joint venture of IACLE and AOCLE was once again held in Waterloo in June 2000. The workshop focused on technological advances, such as web-based learning, digital technology and electronic didactic teaching. For the first time, the business meeting of the AOCLE was held in conjunction with the annual workshop, a trend that continues to date.
At the 2001 workshop, held for the first time in Puerto Rico, several industry sponsors were offered special recognition certificates/plaques for their years of continuous support to AOCLE. Gary Gunderson (ICO), chair at the time, recognized B&L for 27 years of continuous support, Ciba Vision for 20 years of continuous support, Alcon for 14 years of support and Vistakon for 10 years of continuous support.
By 2002, the movement towards the electronic form of communication, prompted the editors to consider publishing the newsletter in an electronic format. The last printed newsletter (#17) was in April 2002 and the new electronic format of the AOCLE newsletter was distributed in November 2002 (#18). The newsletter remains in electronic format to date and continues to be a valuable resource.
The idea of a Living Library was first discussed in 2000, and formalized in 2001. Neil Pence (Indiana) and Jenny Smythe (Pacific) acted as editor and co-editor respectively for the project. The Living Library would entail compiling short summaries or overviews of the current thinking on the etiology, clinical appearance, and best management of various conditions, along with an extensive reference list of best sources of information for the topic. The authors of that topic would then be responsible for keeping the page updated and current, by reviewing all pertinent new developments and articles on the topic. The idea was for educators to use the Living Library as a quick resource for students/residents to update them on current topics. The Living Library is presently housed on the AOCLE website.
In 2002, the AOCLE created a Soft toric fitting CD-ROM enabling educators once again to possess an educational tool for its students/residents. A list of AOCLE achievements is included to provide a timeline of educational tools available to the AOCLE.
In 2003, the AOCLE was shocked with the news of the passing of Dr. George Mertz, Director of Professional Affairs at Vistakon and long time friend of the AOCLE. Dr. Mertz had developed close relationships with many people at the AOCLE and was a strong advocate of contact lens education. His dedication and passion in the area of contact lenses was tremendous and to honor his memory the AOCLE felt that they wanted to continue promoting contact lens education in his honor. The AOCLEestablished the George Mertz New Educator Travel Award, to allow new contact lens educators to attend their first AOCLE workshop. Eligibility criteria were quickly established and two recipients attended the next workshop held at Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) in 2004. A list of recipients in included.
At that same workshop Harue Marsden and Julie Schornack (SCCO, 2004) began the daunting task of defining the entry level “cornea and contact lenses skills and knowledge” base required for optometric practice. It was felt that the AOCLE was in a unique position to tackle this age old question. Attendees of the 2004 workshop were asked to complete an exhaustive survey which highlighted three main areas; Procedures, Knowledge and Conditions. Attendees were also asked to identify whether a particular skill and knowledge should be entry level or more advanced. A brief result of the surveys were presented at the 2005 workshop and attendees were divided up into workgroups to study the questions further. The project is still ongoing to date.
At the 2006 workshop in Montreal, the AOCLE CL Clinical Pocket Guide was launched. The guide covers key case history questions, lens fitting characteristics, lens markings and FDA lens material classifications. It was designed as a clinical reference tool for students and residents. Information regarding overnight wear, colored lens options and contact lens calculations are included as well. The guide contains sections detailing soft, gas permeable and specialty contact lenses. The guide was distributed to all 3rd, 4th year optometry students, residents and CL related faculty at all of the 19 North American Optometry institutions.
The 2007 workshop in Berkeley focused on Case Report Writing. The editors from Optometry, Optometry and Vision Science, Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, and Contact Lens Spectrum comprised an expert panel with whom the attendees could discuss their case reports and revise their manuscripts. As a result of this workshop, several attendees submitted and published articles in one of these journals.
Also established at the 2007 workshop was the Lester E. Janoff Memorial Award. The idea for this award was presented by Drs. Joel Silbert and Michael Spinell of PCO in honor of one of their mentors, Dr. Lester Janoff. Dr. Janoff was an optometric educator, administrator, contact lens clinician and researcher. His professional career encompassed private practice, contact lens research for industry, and contact lens education at three optometry schools (Pennsylvania College of Optometry, New England College of Optometry and Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry). He was a Diplomate in the Cornea and Contact lens Section of the American Academy of Optometry and Associate Dean of NSUCO. The award committee, which consisted of Dr. Silbert, Dr. Spinell, and Dr. Andrea Janoff, daughter of Lester Janoff, made its first presentation at the 2008 workshop in Boston.
Over the past three decades, the AOCLE has maintained a continuous communications forum for its constituent schools and its individual members. The camaraderie that has been established between the well over 100 contact lens educators that have been involved, at one time or another, has allowed an exchange of teaching methodologies and technologies, teaching aids, evaluation techniques, administrative expertise and in countless other areas of mutual interest. No other group of clinical optometric educators have had the advantage of such a long and stable relationship. The benefits to its individual members and thereby to the schools and colleges of optometry that they represent have been immeasurable.