NEW YORK—Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 through October 15 every year, provides an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate Hispanic Americans who have made an impact on our country. Enacted into law on August 17, 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month’s 30-day span covers a number of important days for Hispanic Americans: September 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. September 16 is Mexico’s independence day, while September 18 is Chile’s. Dia de la Raza is on October 12.

There are countless ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month—within the optical community, Latinos en Optometry (LEO) is spotlighting the groundbreaking work of Hispanic Americans in the industry. With an overarching vision of increasing the number of Latino optometrists and empowering the eyecare community with resources to better serve Latinos, Latinos en Optometry provides education, mentorship and leadership to all.

As part of their Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, Latinos en Optometry has been spotlighting Latino optometrists on social media. Melissa Gray, OD, who is of Cuban descent and practices in South Florida was the first to share her journey as a Latino in optometry, with a post on the Latinos en Optometry Instagram page, in which she encouraged students to work hard and look after their mental health. She said, “I decided to become a member of LEO because I wanted to be a part of a community to help inspire a new generation of Latino students to consider optometry as a profession. And, as an optometrist myself, I wanted to help better serve the Latino community, especially here in South Florida.”

In addition to spotlighting Latino members of the optical community, Latinos en Optometry is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with messages from non-Latino members of the community who are actively supporting the work they do. In a message on social media, Kristie Nguyen, OD, explained how Latinos en Optometry is helpful for non-Latino optometrists, too, providing resources to help ODs communicate well with Spanish-speaking patients even when they themselves do not speak the language.

At Vision Expo West, which fell during Hispanic Heritage Month, Latinos en Optometry hosted an in-person networking event, where attendees were able to meet with the board, network and learn how to get involved with the advocacy work Latinos en Optometry does.

Diana Canto-Sims, OD, CEO and founder of La Vida Eyewear and co-owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, and Lawrence Chavez, founder and CEO of EveryDay Contacts, Inc., are the founding members of LEO, which they founded in 2021. Earlier this year, Canto-Sims told VMAIL, “Latinos En Optometry is a labor of love. Lawrence and I are passionate about increasing the number of Latinos attending optometry school, improving equity in eyecare for Latinos and supporting all who serve the Latino community.”

Chavez told VMAIL, “We are excited to begin building Latinos En Optometry and sharing the resources and connections that will help better address the eyecare needs of the Latino community and especially the doctors who serve the Latino community. We are committed to creating generational change to better serve the needs of Latinos now and 20 years from now.”

As we round out Hispanic Heritage Month, there is still plenty of time to spotlight the incredible impact that the Latino community brings to our industry. To get involved or access resources, visit

Melissa Gray, OD, who is of Cuban descent, shared her journey as a Latino optometrist for Hispanic Heritage Month. Image via latinosenoptometry on Instagram

LEO celebrated at Vision Expo West with an in-person networking event. Image via latinosenoptometry on Instagram