AAO initiatives stress professional, patient education

Lois A. Bowers, MA

The American Academy of Ophthalmology launched two major education-related initiatives in 2007.

Key Points

Every year brings new discoveries or novel, off-label uses of drugs leading to breakthroughs in patient care, he said. "That's why the overriding mission of the [AAO] is education."

The O.N.E. Web site, accessible via http://www.aao.org/one/ at no charge to ophthalmologists who are members of the organization, can be customized so that the home page displays content addressing an individual's subspecialty and other professional interests.

"It's a beginning. It will continue to expand," he said of the Web site. "There's a tremendous amount of material there. We need your feedback on how to improve it."

The AAO plans to make the site available to ophthalmologists around the world, Dr. Hoskins added, also telling members that the organization is endeavoring to put as much content as possible online "so it's quickly and easily available wherever you need it."

Public education

The executive vice president also reported that the AAO and its foundation's public service program, EyeCare America, launched a public awareness campaign called EyeSmart this past summer based on requests from the organization's members.

"EyeSmart stresses the importance of understanding the risks of eye disease," Dr. Hoskins said. "We're focusing this [effort] on the 40-to 60-year-old woman who makes health-care decisions, and we're using our strengths to differentiate ourselves from optometrists."

As part of the campaign, the AAO's foundation developed a new Web site, http://www.geteyesmart.org/, for the general public, he said.

"Patients can find out information about a particular eye problem at this Web site. They can tour the anatomy of the eye. They can learn about a vision simulator that shows how the eye works," Dr. Hoskins said. "And there's important information on how to obtain [care for] no out-of-pocket cost through EyeCare America's service program."

Ophthalmologists can promote the campaign in their offices and communities using free tools from the AAO, he told attendees. "Sign up, get the materials, get involved, be a part, be active. That's what we all need to do for our patients, for the future," Dr. Hoskins said. "You can change the public attitude about who we are, what we do, and why we are . . . dedicated to the ultimate care of our patients."