American Academy of Ophthalmology Honors Leaders in Medical and Surgical Eyecare

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SAN FRANCISCO—The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) honored several ophthalmologists who have improved eyecare for millions worldwide through their commitment to their patients and their profession during AAO 2019, the 123rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  The meeting was held Oct. 12 to 15 in San Francisco. The most prestigious of the honors—the Laureate Recognition Award, which is presented to an individual who has made exceptional scientific contributions to the betterment of eyecare, leading to the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight worldwide—was awarded to Marilyn T. Miller, MD. Dr. Miller is a pediatric ophthalmologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital eye diseases and strabismus, according to AAO’s announcement about the awards.

Miller has added to the understanding of conditions such as Duane syndrome, Mobius syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and the mysteries of the Zika virus. She is especially well known for her work in international ophthalmology and has cared for thousands of patients around the world, particularly in Nigeria, where the Marilyn Miller Centre for Children’s Eye Health and Genetics was established in her honor. As a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology, she has touched countless students as a lifelong mentor.

“When Dr. Miller speaks, everyone listens,” David W. Parke II, MD, chief executive officer of AAO, said in the announcement. “Her career is forever guided by the patient, advancing science and understanding, fostering collaboration, and the greater good.”

Other awards presented during AAO 2019 include:

• The Distinguished Service Award (honoring an individual or organization for ongoing notable service to ophthalmology and the Academy) went to the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO). The Academy recognizes APAO for its decades of success as the international organization in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to more than half of the world’s population.

• The Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award (recognizing ophthalmologists whose contributions to charitable activities demonstrate their concern and care for needy populations) went to Drs. Graham E. Quinn, MD, and David F. Chang, MD. Dr. Quinn has improved care for infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of preventable blindness in premature infants worldwide. He has worked with ophthalmologists and pediatricians in Asia, Africa and South America to develop standards for patient care and physician training. Dr. Chang has been working to end cataract blindness around the world by expanding surgical training in underserved countries, including Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Haiti and China.

• The International Blindness Prevention Award  (given to an ophthalmologist who has made significant contributions to restoring sight throughout the world) went to Richard L. Abbott, MD. Dr. Abbott has traveled the globe, helping to develop clinical guidelines to improve patient care.

• The Outstanding Advocate Award (recognizing ophthalmologists who participate in advocacy-related efforts at the state or federal level) went to Ralph C. Lanciano Jr., DO, for advocacy efforts that span decades at both the state and federal levels. The ultimate strategist, Dr. Lanciano immerses himself in every stage of advocacy planning to achieve the best outcome.

• The Straatsma Award (acknowledging excellence in resident education and given jointly by the Academy and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology) went to Susan Culican, MD, Ph.D. During her 15 years as residency program director for the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, she has worked tirelessly to improve the overall quality of the program, while also assessing individual trainee’s needs.

• The Artemis Award (recognizing a young ophthalmologist Academy member who has demonstrated caring and service of an exemplary degree to their patients) went to Marcus Ang, MBBS, Ph.D. Dr. Ang founded a nonprofit, Global Clinic Ltd., to provide free eyecare and surgery for people in developing countries throughout Asia.

• The Special Recognition Award (given to an individual or organization for outstanding service in a specific effort or cause that improves the quality of eyecare) went to William L. Rich III, MD. Dr. Rich twice advanced an initiative to update practice expenses that resulted in a significant improvement in ophthalmology payments from Medicare. He is a national leader in quality and outcomes measurement. One of his most significant achievements was chairing a task force that outlined the rationale and requirements for developing a clinical data registry. This work served as the foundation for the IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight).