NECO Makes Impact at AAO’s Annual Meeting

aao meeting pics 2022

The American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting was held in San Diego, California this year to record-breaking crowds. Our NECO faculty members stood out as leaders during the industry meeting as they presented over 20 lectures and poster presentations, were honored with several industry awards, chaired special interest groups, and even completed an inaugural leadership academy during AAO’s centennial event.


NECO Faculty Complete the Dr. Merton C. Flom Leadership Academy

Faculty members and Clinic providers Dr. Amy Roan Moy ’03, Dr. Timothy Bossie ’12, Dr. Elena Z. Biffi ’10, Dr. Diane Russo, Dr. Jennifer Reilly ’15, and Dr. Joseph Kane ’15 graduated in the inaugural class of the Merton C. Flom Leadership Academy during the second day of the annual meeting. Crowds of NECO colleagues and friends, including NECO President and CEO Dr. Howard Purcell, attended the ceremony to celebrate and congratulate the graduates.

aao meeting pics 2022

From left to right: Dr. Timothy Bossie ’12, Dr. Amy Roan Moy ’03, Dr. Diane Russo, Dr. Elena Z. Biffi ’10, Dr. Jennifer Reilly ’15, and Dr. Joseph Kane ’15

The Leadership Academy is designed to help optometrists develop their full leadership potential through guided and individual study, facilitated discussion, and optimization of their personal talents. NECO faculty were selected in 2021 from a competitive pool of candidates and are now trained in ethical, empathetic, and innovative leadership. They will be able to bring this experience into the classroom, exam room, and anywhere else they find the opportunity to lead members of the optometry community.

Dr. Meng Meng Xu at ASCO International Optometry Educator’s Special Interest Group

NECO faculty member Dr. Meng Meng Xu served as Chair of the ASCO International Optometry Educator (IOE) Special Interest Group’s annual meeting. The group is dedicated to fostering relationships, projects, and policies that positively impact international education and the global promotion of optometry.

This year, the group’s meeting was held in collaboration with VOSH/International, a dedicated community of volunteers who serve optometric patients around the world. The group is divided into global chapters, with each region having its own representative.

aao meeting pics 2022

The IOE Special Interest Group at Academy 2022

Dr. Bina Patel represented NECO’s chapter at the annual meeting where the group focused on “Bilateral Value Creation in International Collaboration.” Their aim was to identify how they can encourage more ASCO member schools to engage in international programs and what each participating institution would gain from such a partnership.

“Great ideas surfaced from our breakout groups, such as collaborative research in public health using VOSH data, creating opportunities for young faculty to develop leadership and teaching skills for future promotion, and exposing students to more cultural diversity,” shared Dr. Xu.

Dr. Benjamin Young Keeps Students Engaged in a Virtual Classroom

NECO Assistant Professor of Primary Care and Attending Optometrist at NECO Center for Eye Care, Dr. Benjamin Young shared a poster presentation documenting the need for increased engagement in students during the 2020 academic year when classes abruptly went online. Dr. Young created excitement around his alternative method of class participation by offering a playful extra credit opportunity to the students in his Principles and Practice of Optometry class.

Man in suit stands in front of research poster

Dr. Young with his rNFL poster presentation at Academy 2022

He presented the results from his novel optometric education activity called the “PPO rNFL,” or the Principles and Practice of Optometry and retinal Nerve Fiber Layer, a play on the National Football League initials. Using a gamification methodology, he organized students into competing teams like in a football league.

thumbnail image of research posterrNFL AAO Poster Fall 2022

Students were grouped into smaller teams of five within larger leagues of 30 to compete with and against each other for the highest amount of extra credit. “This activity showed significant positive correlations to increased engagement and overall satisfaction with the course,” said Dr. Young at AAO’s annual meeting.

Awards and Honors

Alfred A. Rosenbloom, Jr. Low Vision Residency Award; Jem Martin, OD, New England College of Optometry

Comprehensive Rehabilitation Low Vision Resident Bence Family Leadership Student Travel Fellowship; Josh Normandeau, New England College of Optometry

Meta Technologies, LLC / Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Award; Fuensanta A. Vera-Diaz, OD, PhD, FAAO, Associate Professor of Optometry; New England College of Optometry

Faculty Presentations and Participation

Continuing Education Lectures and Workshops
  • Gobeille M. Low Vision Management for the Patient with Mild Visual Impairment
  • Malkin A., Gulmiri A. The Intersection of Low Vision and Contact Lens: Unique Examples of Co-Management
  • Ross N., Malkin A. Is One Eye Better or Two – Management of Binocular Vision in Low Vision
  • Malkin A., Donahue A. To Renew or Not to Renew: Understanding the Nuances in Low Vision
  • Humphreys, E. Grand Rounds Lecture: “Highlighting Hypercoagulability (of malignancy)”
  • Humphreys, E. “Gotta Catch ’em All: GCA and differentials” 
  • Moy A., Reilly J. “Infection Control for Optometrists”
  • Biffi, E. Workshop: WK-08 “Foreign Body Removal and Patching Workshop” 
  • Biffi, E. Lecture: NO-05 “When Optometry Meets Neurology – Case Series from Stroke to Dementia”
  • Biffi E. Lecture: GO-09 “Rapid Fire: OCT Biomarkers: The Eye, the Body and the Brain”
  • D. Russo, K. Jackson, C. Lefkowitz, D. Dolan Workshop: “Motivational Patient Interviewing for Optometrists”
  • D. Russo, M. Contreras Workshop: “Connecting Social Determinants to Clinical Practice”
  • Myers L., Singleton J., Reilly J. Workshop: “Improving Students’ Patient Care Management Using the Thinker’s Guide to Clinical Reasoning”
Scientific Presentations
  • Borle, K., Gaiser, H., Lyons S. Identification of Keratoconus in the Presence of Meridional Amblyogenic Risk 
  • Tran A., Srinivasan G., Taylor C., Little J.A., Kerber K.L. Can a New Wavefront Aberrometry-based Autorefractor Reliably Measure the Accommodative Response? 
  • Gulmiri A., Bossie T., Vera-Diaz F. Comparison of Three Optical Biometers in Children within a Myopia Management Practice 
  • Peterson B., Ho J., Bittner A, Knizak, Idmain-Rait C, Estabrook M, Malkin A., Chun M., Donahue A., Ross N. Psychosocial Impact of Visual Assistive Apps in Seniors with Low Vision
  • Zbikowski M., Vera-Diaz F. Kerber K., Jnawali A. Objective and Subjective Measures of Time Spent Outdoors by Young Children
  • Aneja, N. A Case of High-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia Impacting the Severity of Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Aneja, N. The Impact of Pregnancy on an Active Retinal Toxoplasmosis
  • Merritt, M, Aneja, N. The Pitfalls of Unsupervised Gonioscopy Practice in Optometry School Aneja, N. (second author) Rapid Choroidal Neovascularization and Chronic Retinoschisis in a High Myope”
  • Young, B. The rNFL: A Novel Extra Credit Activity using Gamification Methodology
  • Morgan Zbikowski Fuensanta A. Vera-Diaz Kristen Kerber Ashutosh Jnawali-Objective and Subjective Measures of Time Spent Outdoors by Young Children
  • Bossie T, Reilly J. Comparison of a Novel Automated Binocular Refraction System to a Standard Digital Phoropter
Residency Day Presentations
  • Rachel Schwalbe: Pseudo Glaucomatous Optic Nerve Cupping Secondary to Extreme Prematurity 
  • Lauren Butler: Diagnosis and Management of Morning Glory Disc Anomaly and its Systemic Associations
  • Melynda Gagliardi: Three Cases Demonstrating Three Major Indications of Scleral Lens Channels
  • Camellia Lee: Goodnight Sclerals: Treatment Options and Lens Fitting Considerations in Overnight Scleral Lens Wear
Committees and Service
  • Nicole Quinn Residency member Day, Residency Affairs Committee, member. Meet Potential Residents lunch
  • Stacy Lyons Peds/BV Special Interest Group (SIG) – member. Chair, National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health Meeting, Resident Networking event. 
  • Kristen Kerber Peds/BV SIG – member
  • Nicole Ross ASCO LV – steering committee member and lead of clinical education subcommittee, Vision and Aging SIG – secretary, Low Vision SIG – member 
  • Lexi Malkin Low Vision SIG – member
  • Daniel Bastian Chair of the Optometric Education Section.
  • Kristen Brown CCLRT practical exam offsite (at Nvision Laser and Surgery Center) all day on Wednesday 10/26.
  • Bina Patel COMP SIG and IOE SIG and chairing the IOE committee.
  • Fuensanta Vera-Diaz Scientific Program Committee – member.