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NECO Students & Faculty Participate in Advocacy Efforts

NECO Students and faculty travel to Washington DC to advocate for vision and eye health

Faculty and students from New England College of Optometry (NECO) are actively involved in advocacy events for vision and eye health on a state and national level. On June 16th, students Kenny Chen and Rebecca Deffler, Class of 2017, joined Drs. Bruce Moore and Stacy Lyons, members of the Children’s Vision Massachusetts Coalition, Prevent Blindness, and other delegates across the country for the 10th annual “Eyes on Capitol Hill” program. The program provides citizens the opportunity to meet with congressional and senate members, and their staff, to discuss vision care issues. Kenny Chen stated, “Seeing so many individuals from various fields of study come together with the common goal of preventing blindness reminded me of why I chose this profession.”

The group visited the offices of Sen. Warren and Markey; Congressmen/women Tsongas, Kennedy, Clark, McGovern, and Lynch. Kenny Chen and Rebecca Deffler provided remarks from an optometry student perspective in support of the Prevent Blindness legislative agenda.

Vision Health advocates discussed topics such as providing funds to maintain vision health initiatives and glaucoma screenings and treatments, developing a public health infrastructure to support vision and eye health care for children, and sponsoring legislation to increase eye care in underserved areas with elected officials.

Kenny Chen, OD17, explained, “Advocating for the optometric profession gave me new insight into how our field is governed and what we can do about it. New laws and bills are proposed every year; it is our duty to stay up-to-date with these changes and make our voices heard.”

The following day, June 17, all “Eyes on Capitol Hill” delegates attended the fourth annual Prevent Blindness Summit at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Summit included a variety of presentations related to this year’s theme, “Game Changers in Vision,” featuring efforts and advances that are expected to significantly change how we think about and deliver eye care into the future.

Prevent Blindness Northeast Region is part of Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, serving the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Learn more about Prevent Blindness. Children’s Vision Massachusetts is a sixty member coalition of families and professionals from multiple disciplines and affiliations whose mission is to facilitate the development of a state-wide plan to improve the visual health of children in Massachusetts. Learn more about Children’s Vision Massachusetts.

Shown in photo (left to right): Kenny Chen and Rebecca Deffler, New England College of Optometry; Tarsha Benevento, Prevent Blindness; Jonathan Modest, Boston Children’s Hospital; Kathy Majzoub, Prevent Blindness; Sarah Curtis, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Kennedy; Erin DiSanto, Parent Advocate; Bruce Moore, OD, at Congressman Kennedy’s office, Washington, DC during the 2015 Prevent Blindness Advocacy Day.