COVD’s mission is to improve lives by advancing excellence in optometric vision therapy through education and board certification.  Nowhere was that mission statement more obviously in play than at COVD’s annual meeting.  Fourteen optometrists completed the certification process and were inducted as Board Certified Fellows (FCOVD), Board Certified Fellows International (FCOVD-I), and Board Certified Academic Fellows (FCOVD-A).  In addition, twenty-seven optometric vision therapists completed the certification process  and were inducted as Certified Optometric Vision Therapists (COVT).  These doctors and therapists are improving lives across the country and indeed the world (a special word of gratitude and congratulations to Dr. Stanley Tien from Malaysia) through clinical practice, research, and education.

The annual meeting advances excellence in optometric vision therapy by bringing together all the pieces: clinicians, scientists, therapists, students, residents, exhibitors and educators.  I don’t think I could describe it any better than Dr. Belinda Kuo.  She is a completing a residency at the Center for Vision Development Optometry in Pasadena, CA.  Here is her summary:

Amazing! That would be my one word to describe my first ever COVD annual meeting. Held in Orlando, Florida at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek, the meeting was an action-packed mix of learning, networking and having a good time.

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Basic Principles and Procedures of Vision Therapy pre-conference course.  Drs. W.C. Maples and Robin Price were a great team, making the course engaging with stories and advice. They gave a good foundation for vision therapy.  Not only did they explain why and how the procedures work, but they also asked for volunteers so we could see and experience the procedures. During the sessions I could envision how I would incorporate what I was learning for specific patients. They were open to answer any and all questions during and after session. I spoke with fellow residents who took other pre-conference courses, and they also enjoyed the programs and learned many new ways to think about their patients.

The General Education Sessions were very informative with a good variety of topics. I am relatively new to the field of developmental optometry, but I felt comfortable with the information presented. The Primitive Reflexes session gave me the background about WHY these reflexes are important and WHEN and HOW to incorporate them into vision therapy programs. The Sports Vision presentation was a great breakdown of how to approach athletes who would benefit from vision therapy, but Dr. Etting’s presentation included many practical aspects applicable to all patients. I was glad to be informed on hot topics like simulated 3D vision and sports concussions as well. Particularly enjoyable were the oral research presentations and grand rounds, where I was able to hear multiple subjects in a shorter format with applicable takeaway messages.

Student and Residents had their own program for a couple of the evenings. Students received insight into and guidance concerning the process of applying to residency programs. Later that evening at the Student/Resident/Doctor mixer, I enjoyed talking to many of the students about my own reasons for pursuing a private practice residency, the application process, and my experience thus far. Networking with other residents was also helpful, especially sharing cases and differing styles of practice. The private practice panel showcased highly successful doctors in private practice, which I found very encouraging and inspirational.

The sense of community at COVD blew me away! If I could pick one highlight,it would be the welcoming atmosphere of the meeting. Every person was so friendly and willing to share about their experiences in COVD and about their practices. Additionally, the COVD mentorship mentality is really spectacular. There were multiple doctors willing to share insights and express interest in the future of the students and residents. Networking never felt so effortless, with connections being made for future practice opportunities, COVD Fellowship mentors and private practice counseling. After attending the Awards Luncheon, I felt a deep appreciation for the history of developmental optometry and the sense of family in this COVD community.

The meeting was so well put together. The location and accommodations were wonderful, offering a resort that one could enjoy for the whole week as well as a wealth of theme parks and restaurants nearby. It was especially kind of COVD to arrange special registration and hotel fees for the students and residents, as well as offering generous travel grants. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend the COVD annual meeting and be a part of the COVD family.

COVD’s mission is being realized.  The certification process is providing greater access to developmental vision services around the world.  The education provided today will enhance practice for many tomorrows.  I know Dr. Kuo will “pay it forward” by becoming a Fellow of COVD in the near future and continuing to advance COVD’s mission. fellows