Since 1922, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) has been enhancing excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. Fellows of the Academy are committed to the premise that learning is a lifelong obligation of a professional, as is the commitment to expand the profession’s knowledge base through ongoing Fellowship and exchange.
The optometry field is constantly changing. The Academy recognizes that optometrists must receive quality continuing education and the most current information about vision science research. The American Academy of Optometry provides this through its reputation for high quality continuing education (CE) programming, and the combination of science and education in a single program. Attendees at Academy meetings are able to choose between Lectures & Workshops, symposia, and scientific lectures and poster presentations. There are nearly 300 hours of COPE-approved continuing education provided over 4 days.
In qualifying for and maintaining Fellowship, individuals are evaluated against the highest standards of professional competence. The letters "FAAO" (Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry) after an optometrist, scientist or other qualified person’s name signify to colleagues and patients that rigorous qualifications for Fellowship have been met. Fellowship is open to the following professionals who demonstrate that they meet Academy standards:
(a)optometrists who are licensed to practice at the highest level permitted by law in their jurisdiction, and
(b)scientists, educators, librarians, administrators, and editors who have accredited themselves and optometry by their contributions to optometry or vision science.
Academy membership consists of Fellows (including Emeritus, Honorary and Life Fellows), student members, and candidates for Fellowship. Although members may have similar benefits, only Fellows may use the "FAAO" designation. Currently 86% of Academy Fellows provide clinical care (see patients on a continuing basis). 47% are in private practice. 14% are involved in the education of optometric students. 11% practice optometry through the federal service (military, Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services, Public Health Service, etc.).
All members of the Academy, whether or not they see patients, are dedicated to the highest standards of optometric practice through clinical care, education or research.