Closeup of optometry equipment

Guide to Professional Optometry Associations

Across the US and around the world, there are many optometry associations for eye care professionals to consider joining. From local and state chapters to national and international optometry organizations, the choices can seem endless.

It’s natural for recent graduates and young eye care specialists to wonder: is joining one of these groups worthwhile? How can membership in a national optometry association like the American Optometric Association or the American Academy of Optometry help my career?

Aside from networking and mentoring opportunities, optometry organizations also offer specialized certifications and continuing education courses that enable eye care providers to stay up to date on the latest industry trends and best practices.

Here’s a list of five of the main optometry associations. Become familiar with each organization below and visit their websites to learn more.


American Optometric Association (AOA)

The AOA is a federation of state, student, and armed forces optometric associations and represents more than 44,000 doctors of optometry, eye care professionals, and optometry students across the US. As an advocate for eye care providers and their patients, the AOA lobbies for the optometric profession at all legislative levels, invests in the development of clinical tools and best practices to advance patient care, and promotes eye health through a variety of public relations and marketing efforts.


American Academy of Optometry (AAO)

The Academy is a professional group and credentialing organization dedicated to advancing vision care. The Fellowship and Diplomate programs offered by the Academy recognize licensed optometrists as well as scientists, educators, and other accredited professionals who have contributed to eye care and vision science.


National Optometric Association (NOA)

The NOA is unique among optometry associations because their mission is to recruit underrepresented minority students into the schools and colleges of optometry as well as assist in their placement into appropriate practice settings upon graduation. Another priority of the NOA is to increase access to vision care for residents of urban and minority communities.


Group of optometrists meeting at an optometry association event


American Optometric Student Association (AOSA)

With chapters at each of the accredited 25 schools and colleges of optometry throughout the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, the AOSA is dedicated to supporting and empowering optometric students. This includes advocating on behalf of students at all levels of government, providing supplemental educational opportunities, and promoting networking/engagement among members.


Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)

The ASCO is an academic leadership organization that seeks to promote and advance optometric education. Similar to the AOSA, the ASCO has relationships with all accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the US and Puerto Rico. The ASCO sponsors and orchestrates a number of programs including applicant development and diversity, advocacy, residency promotion, data development, and communications.


Bonus: Here are two international optometry organizations to consider joining.


Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF)

Much like the optometry associations profiled above, the OEPF’s primary objective is the advancement of optometry as a medical discipline. To support this mission, the OEPF provides education to optometrists, their staff, and the general public on the importance of visual health and hygiene, prevention of visual and ocular problems, and fundamentals of visual development.


College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)

The COVD is an international non-profit association of eye care professionals that provides board certification for optometrists and vision therapists who offer services in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy, and neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Optometrists who complete the certification process are designated as Fellows of COVD while vision therapists can become Certified Optometric Vision Therapists (COVT).


Joining optometry organizations like the ones listed above is a great way to be active in your industry and gain access to valuable professional development and networking opportunities. Get involved, make connections, and take your career to the next level!

by: Freddie Rohner, iHire
January 07, 2019

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