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Trailblazers in Medical and Surgical Eye Care Honored at AAO 2016
American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes exceptional leaders for the profession at its 120th Annual Meeting

CHICAGO, Oct. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Some of the world's most influential leaders in medical and surgical eye care were honored this week in front of a crowd of thousands of eye physicians and surgeons at AAO 2016, the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Academy's 120th annual meeting in Chicago.

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Each year, the Academy presents a series of awards to exemplary member ophthalmologists. The most prestigious of these honors is the Laureate Recognition Award. It recognizes ophthalmologists who made exceptional scientific contributions to preventing blindness and restoring sight worldwide. This year's recipient is Matthew D. Davis, M.D., who is known for his groundbreaking work in the study of retinal diseases.

Dr. Davis chaired the first clinical trials in the 1970s that showed effectiveness of scatter laser photocoagulation and vitrectomy surgery for diabetic retinopathy. These trials created the standard of care treatments that are still used, and are models of clinical research for treating the disease. Dr. Davis also established the center that developed photographic standards and systems for analyzing photographs of the retina and assessing changes over time. He was also involved in the development of classifications for diabetic retinopathy and scales for age-related macular degeneration. These measures have been widely used in the study and management of these disorders.

Dr. Davis has inspired many medical students to pursue careers as researchers, published more than 270 papers and book chapters, and has received many awards for his groundbreaking work. He has also served on several influential scientific advisory boards and research committees.

 Other awards presented during AAO 2016 include:

  • The Distinguished Service Award honors an individual or organization for ongoing notable service. This year's recipient is the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. Founded in 1966, AUPO is an organization of leaders in academic ophthalmology dedicated to supporting and strengthening ophthalmic education and research. Over the years AUPO has had a remarkable impact on vision science. The group's advocacy efforts led to the formation of the National Eye Institute in 1968. AUPO also established a Residency Matching Program in 1977, simplifying the process for young physicians to enter ophthalmology well in advance of other medical specialties.
  • The Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award recognizes ophthalmologists whose contributions to charitable activities demonstrate their concern and care for needy populations. This year the award goes to: 
    • Paul S. Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Utah, who has spent eight years training ophthalmologists in developing nations, and expanding the availability of retinal care from Ghana to Nepal. In the United States, Dr. Bernstein established the first and only vitreoretinal training program in which U.S. fellows attend fully-funded, international ophthalmology guest fellowships.
    • Benjamin W. Roberts, M.D., of the University of Alabama, who has dedicated his career to preventing blindness in the developing world, focusing on the people of East Africa. Since 2006, he has served as a medical missionary in Bornet, Kenya, increasing the number of eye surgeries performed at Tenwek Hospital from 600 to 2,400 per year in a four-year period.
  • The International Blindness Prevention Award is given to an ophthalmologist who has made significant contributions to restoring sight throughout the world. This year's winner is Van Charles Lansingh, M.D., Medical Officer for Latin America for HelpMeSee. He has spent his career in various places around the globe, including Latin America, North America, South East Asia and the Pacific making major contributions to reduce blindness and restore eyesight.
  • The Outstanding Advocate Award recognizes ophthalmologists who participate in advocacy-related efforts at the state or federal level. This year's awardee is Donald J. Cinotti, M.D., of Eye Physician and Surgeons, LLC of Jersey City, N.J. Dr. Cinotti serves in numerous advocacy leadership roles including chair of the Academy's ORTHOPAC committee. He has influenced generations of young ophthalmologists, reinforcing that their professional duties include not only treating patients but also advocating that patients receive high-quality eye care.
  • The Straatsma Award acknowledges excellence in resident education and is given jointly by the Academy and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology to a program director dedicated to the principles and significance of residency education. This year we proudly give the award to Steven J. Gedde, M.D., of the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
  • The Artemis Award recognizes a young ophthalmologist Academy member who has demonstrated caring and service of an exemplary degree to his or her patients. This year, Paula Anne Newman-Casey, M.D., of the University of Michigan is being honored. Dr. Newman-Casey helped introduce a new initiative for providing free ophthalmic care to patients at Hope Medical Clinic – a free medical clinic in Ypsilanti, Mich.  
  • The Special Recognition Award is given to an individual or organization for outstanding service in a specific effort or cause that improves the quality of eye care. This year's recipient is the European Board of Ophthalmology for its partnership with the Academy in developing and formally endorsing the Basic and Clinical Science Course for use in Europe and for their success as a certifying body.
  • Every year, Guests of Honor are chosen by the Board of Trustees for their contribution to the field of ophthalmology and the Academy. This year Academy president William L. Rich III, M.D., is honoring:
    • Stephen A. Kamenetzky, M.D., of Washington University for his commitment to serving as an Academy volunteer for more than 30 years. Dr. Kamenetzky is also being commended for his critical role on a variety of committees that helped shape policies to preserve and enhance Medicare payments for ophthalmic services in the face of significant budgetary and legislative pressures.
    • James A. Loreto, M.D., for his enduring dedication to improving the delivery of patient care, professional leadership and mentorship of generations of young ophthalmologists.
    • A. Raymond Pilkerton, M.D., of Georgetown University, a visionary in the retina subspecialty of ophthalmology for his passion for advancing the field and serving as a role model and mentor for many Washington, DC, based ophthalmologists.

"These incredible eye physicians and surgeons are the embodiment of the values of our profession," said Dr. Rich. "Their influential contributions have inspired and empowered our global community of eye physicians and surgeons to continually innovate our efforts to reduce the rates of preventable blindness worldwide."

For full awards descriptions, recipient biographies and information about other awards given to Academy members this year, please visit The Academy's annual meeting – "Where all of Ophthalmology Meets®" – is being held this from Oct. 14-18 at McCormick Place, Chicago. It is the largest ophthalmology conference in the world. For more information, read about the AAO 2016 highlights.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit

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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology

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