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Dr. Bina Patel Receives International Optometrist Award from WCO

NECO professor receives top honors at international optometry conference in Colombia

Dr. Bina Patel was recently honored by the World Council of Optometry (WCO) with the International Optometrist Award at the 1st World Congress of Optometry in Medellin, Colombia this past August. As an organization, the WCO seeks to support optometrists in promoting eye health and vision care through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach. Together with Dr. Allan Jones, OD, and Dr. Shehzad A Naroo PhD, the three optometrists were selected for “outstanding contributions to the development of the profession of optometry worldwide.”

The Distinguished Service Award was presented at a Governing Board dinner on August 13 at the Museo de Antioquia, Botero Museum by WCO President Susan Cooper and Dr. Thomas Freddo, an alum and former professor at New England College of Optometry, In presenting the award, Dr. Thomas Freddo explained, “Bina has had a significant impact on optometric education and training on nearly every continent and she comes to it very naturally.” Dr. Patel was chosen for her contributions helping to develop international partnerships and programs for optometrists and students both internationally and in the US, as well as her commitment to humanitarian work. She lectures worldwide in addition to teaching courses at the College, managing the international program at NECO, and participating on yearly international VOSH medical missions to a variety of countries. Dr. Susan Cooper noted that Governing Board was impressed with Dr. Patel’s “diverse contributions to optometric education around the world and strong personal commitment to our profession.”

Dr. Freddo noted, “In her years at NECO, Dr. Patel has spearheaded international outreach, long before it became fashionable, eventually helping to found NECO’s Center for the International Advancement of Optometry.” Passionate about international optometry and promoting quality eye care around the world, Dr. Patel currently directs the Advanced Standing International Program (ASIP) at the College, a rigorous 24 month OD program for internationally trained optometrists. Dr. Freddo said, “Graduates of this program have returned to their native countries and served as catalysts for the upgrading of optometric training and scope of practice.”

“Over the years, Bina has led academic advancement efforts for optometry with partners in several countries including South Africa, China, Germany, Italy and Spain,” says Dr. Freddo. “These programs have provided the foundations upon which change in scope of the practice efforts have been soundly built. Her standards for international optometric education and training are those to which all such programs should aspire.”

“Dr. Bina Patel is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about optometric education in countries outside of the United States,” notes President Clifford Scott, New England College of Optometry. “She is a tremendous resource to the World Council of Optometry and we are proud to have her as our ambassador for optometry through her work both at the College and with universities, students and patients in other countries.”

Dr. Patel attended the conference with fellow NECO faculty members Dr. Aurora Denial, Dr. Tony Cavallerano and Dr. Meng Xu. In addition to receiving the award, Drs. Patel and Xu were able to conduct a workshop for conference participants detailing punctual plugs and gonioscopy. Dr. Patel also had the chance to share ideas with Jose Manuel Gomez, president of FEDOPTO.

Dr. BIna Patel and Jose Manuel Gomez
Dr. Bina Patel with Dr. Jose Manuel Gomez

International Optometry Workshop
Dr. Patel at her conference workshop