Who:           Dr. Muriel Martinez, one of three Doctors of Optometry featured in the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s Optometry Gives Me Life campaign, will be promoting the campaign in ASCO’s Booth #925 in the St. Louis Convention Center during Optometry’s Meeting.

Requests to interview Dr. David Damari, ASCO Immediate Past President and Dr. Lewis Reich, Chair of ASCO’s Applicant Pool Task Force also possible.

What:       ASCO’s Optometry Gives Me Life campaign promotion. Optometry Gives Me Life is reaching college-aged students who have expressed an interest in a STEM or health profession, but may not yet be considering optometry. Implementation is through specialized and targeted social media outreach, publications, ancillary promotional materials, emails, direct mail, and the campaign’s landing page at

Campaign materials show what a wonderful career optometry is: how it offers an enviable work/life balance, an excellent salary and quality of life, the various settings one can practice optometry in, the many ways Doctors of Optometry can give back to their community and positively affect the lives of others, and so much more. Some campaign materials are available at Booth #925.

Where:    Booth #925 in St. Louis Convention Center (701 Convention Plaza)

When:      Thursday, June 20 3pm – 7pm and Friday, June 21 9am – 5pm

Why:        The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness of optometry as a career choice among the best and brightest students as well as to increase the diversity and quality of the applicant pool.

Contact:   Kimberly O’Sullivan, ASCO Director of Communications 301.987.8420 or


ASCO wishes to thank its sponsors VSP Global, CooperVision, Essilor, HOYA Vision Care, Luxottica, National Vision, and VisionWorks for their support to the Optometry Gives Me Life campaign.

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ROCKVILLE, MD, April 8, 2018 – Every year, the Association of Schools and Colleges (ASCO) offers an optometry residency matching service – or ORMatch – to interested optometry students. The 2018 match occurred on March 12. Results from this year’s match continue positive upward trends from last year’s, and suggest that optometry students increasingly value completing a residency after graduation.

Below are some statistics from this year’s match.

  • The number of students who participated in 2018 was the highest, at 517 participants, an increase of 7.7% from 2017.
  • Applications submitted in 2018 was 2,614, an increase of 9.1% from 2017.
  • The average number of rankings per participant in 2018 rose to 3.5, from 3.2 in 2017, an increase of 9.4%.
  • The number of residency sites in 2018 increased to 240, a 2.1% increase.
  • Residency programs filling all positions also rose in 2018 to 8.2, from 7.2 in 2017 an increase of 13.8%.
  • Seventy percent (364) of participants were matched with a residency, a decrease of 4% from 2017.
  • Residency programs filling all positions also rose in 2018 to 8.2, from 7.2 in 2017 an increase of 13.8%.

“The Optometry Residency Match shows a continued upward trend in interest in residency education,” according to Dr. Diane T. Adamczyk, Professor and Director of Residency Education at State University of New York, College of Optometry. “This year’s match, when compared to prior years, has seen an increase in the number of applicants, an increase in residency sites, and an increase in residency positions offered. The match reflects the growing interest and importance residency education provides to the practitioner, the patient, and the profession.”

Completing a residency in optometry is a unique and invaluable experience. The rich rewards gained from the year of advanced clinical training under an experienced mentor serve to enhance career opportunities and add to the level of confidence the resident has when beginning his/her post-residency career.

For more information on optometric residency programs, visit ASCO’s website.


The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is a non-profit association representing the interests of optometric education. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate members.




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ROCKVILLE, MD, February 13, 2018 – The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Special Recognition Awards.

ASCO Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. William E. Cochran, President Emeritus of Southern College of Optometry is given this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who over an extended period of time provided exceptional leadership to ASCO and to optometric education; made outstanding contributions to the optometric community, and displayed exemplary commitment and dedication to the association.

“To all my colleagues in optometric education – It has been a privilege to serve the profession of Optometry,” says Dr. Cochran. “Thank you for honoring me with this Lifetime Achievement Award.”

ASCO Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service. Dr. Andrew D. Pucker is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry, through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service and most notably in contributions to ASCO’s Biomedical Educators Special Interest Group.

“It’s an honor to be nominated by UAB and to be selected by ASCO to receive the 2018 Rising Star Award,” says Dr. Pucker. “Life as a translational scientist and educator is rewarding, though not always easy, and awards like this one are an inspiration to keep pursing my passion.” 

ASCO Ophthalmic Industry Leadership Award

The ASCO Ophthalmic Industry Leadership Award recognizes an individual from a current or past Corporate Contributor partner company who demonstrates exemplary support of ASCO and its member institutions. The individual serves as an example for his/her colleagues in industry, and has made exceptional and meaningful contributions to the advancement of ASCO and optometric education.

ASCO’s 2018 Industry Leadership Awardee is Dr. Rodney L. Tahran. Dr. Tahran recently retired from Essilor after 36 years and is an adjunct professor at Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University and the Pacific University, College of Optometry.

“I am honored to receive this award and am happy to contribute to optometric education and to support ASCO. Thank you very much!” says Dr. Tahran.


The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is a non-profit association representing the interests of optometric education. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate members.




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ROCKVILLE, MD, January 9, 2018 – For the first time, pass rates on National Board examinations for the 2016-2017 academic year are now available on the website of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

This data, compiled by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) in conjunction with ASCO member institutions, includes the first-time pass rates for each school/college on Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the exam, the ultimate pass rate for each institution, and national averages for all of the above.

“The NBEO is pleased to collaborate with ASCO and ASCO member institutions in providing a uniform reporting structure for pass rate data.  All calculations were performed using candidates who have both graduated during the listed timeframe and attempted all three parts at least once.  It is our hope that this information will provide a consistent reporting mechanism and we look forward to further collaboration in the future,” says Jill Bryant, OD, FAAO, FSLS, NBEO Interim Executive Director. 

“We are happy to offer this important data of national pass rates from all of our institutions and plan to continue to do so each year going forward,” says Dr. David Damari, ASCO President. “All faculty at every one of our 23 schools and colleges of optometry strive to continually improve our students’ success on the boards until each student in our programs is capable of passing every part.”

This information will be updated and published on the ASCO website each fall.

Link to the report:


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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces the release of a special issue of its Journal, Optometric Education. entitled Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence (Volume 43 Number 1 Fall 2017) is available at The issue features two peer-reviewed articles: Cognitive Strategies to Improve Patient Care in Cross-Cultural Settings and Developing Military Cultural Competency to Better Serve Those Who Have Served Us, two special reports: The Path to Cultural Competence in Optometric Education and Practice: A Timeline to Multicultural Clinical Excellence and Diversity in our Colleges and Schools of Optometry and other insightful “Educator’s Podium” pieces. The guest editor for the issue, Dr. Gary Chu, of the New England College of Optometry and former chair of the ASCO Cultural Competency Curriculum Guidelines Subcommittee, also authored a guest editorial: Diversity, Inclusion, Cultural and Linguistic Competence: Do We Have a Strategy?

The timely issue examines ASCO’s and optometry’s commitment to diversity and cultural and linguistic competence to date and asserts that making an impact in these areas requires further efforts and an ongoing profession-wide commitment. Dr. Chu notes, “ASCO has made great strides in moving the needle in the area of diversity and cultural competency. This journal is a reflection of what we have accomplished. However, there is much more to do. I hope this theme issue will help the reader pause, reflect, and act so we can move the needle further!”

ASCO and its member institutions have embraced diversity and cultural and linguistic competence in optometric education through the implementation of a multi-year, multi-stage project, generously funded by Walmart, that focuses primarily on the implementation of the ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care at its 23 schools and colleges of optometry. The Guidelines are available at:

Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, University of Pikeville Vice-President for Optometric Education, Kentucky College of Optometry and chair of ASCO’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee says, “It is no secret why optometry has grown so rapidly in both number of patients cared for and scope of practice over the last three decades. It is the challenge of a modern and global society to extend our patient focus to individuals of different cultures and environments. A knowledge or acceptance of diversity is no longer the standard for optometric health care. It is no longer enough to be aware that a person is the product of a different cultural experience than ourselves. The tenants of that culture which may and probably will affect our treatment outcomes and patient understandings need to become as much a part of our knowledge as pathology and pharmacology are.”

For additional information about Optometric Education: Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence contact Carol Brubaker, ASCO’s Manager of Professional Affairs, at




































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ROCKVILLE, MD, October 27, 2017 — The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces three new videos, ready for viewing and sharing on its YouTube Channel.

Learn about Research in Academic Optometry from Doctors of Optometry who discuss how research produces clinical science results that can be used in practice, what it’s like being a faculty member or graduate student moving the profession forward through research, and more.

InterProfessional Education and Collaborative Practice presents interviews with a student and faculty members discussing the importance of learning with, about and from students from other health professions, and the benefits to patients of collaborative care.

Why I Chose the Field of Optometry highlights several optometric students and a faculty member. Each discusses why they chose to attend optometry school and the influences behind their decision such as work/life balance, making a difference in someone’s life, research and technology, wanting to be in the health care field, and the importance of being happy in your career.

All three videos were filmed in June during the American Optometric Association’s Optometry’s Meeting in Washington, DC.


The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is a non-profit association representing the interests of optometric education. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate members.

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ROCKVILLE, MD, August 29, 2017, 12:10 pm ET – The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is closely monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, particularly how it is affecting the staff and students at our institution, the University of Houston, College of Optometry (HCO).

We are hearing from Dr. Earl Smith III, Dean of HCO, that the College, to date, has not sustained any damage and all students and staff are safe.

ASCO’s Board of Directors and staff sends its best wishes and prayers to everyone in the Houston area. ASCO will continue communications with Dr. Smith and send updates if necessary.



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A Short Conversation with Dr. David Damari, ASCO President

Each July, ASCO swears in a new President to serve for the year. This year’s President, Dr. David Damari, sat down with ASCO’s Intern, Amanda Howarth, and Director of Communications, Kimberly O’Sullivan to talk about the next twelve months.

Dr. David A. Damari is the Dean at Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry. Prior to his appointment as Dean, he was a professor at Southern College of Optometry (SCO) and the Chair of the Department of Assessment, responsible for institutional review, measures of academic outcomes, and regional and professional accreditation. He is a Fellow and past president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

ASCO: Dr. Damari, congratulations on being named ASCO President for fiscal year 2017-2018. What are you excited for most? Do you think you will face any challenges in the coming year?

Dr. Damari: I’m excited and honored to be ASCO’s president. I’ve been involved with ASCO since I was an optometry student at SUNY. I’ve always been aware of ASCO’s role in the profession and it’s a remarkable privilege for me to lead this great organization where I will get to work with the great Presidents and Deans at all the schools and colleges of optometry.

It’s a difficult time in all healthcare professional education right now. There are fewer students graduating from high school, which means fewer graduating from college, and thus less students applying to healthcare professional schools overall. We have the challenge of getting the best and the brightest college students to recognize what a terrific profession optometry is – a profession that helps people improve their quality of life. In my opinion, there is no other healthcare profession that does more to improve people’s lives than optometry.

Optometry is a fun and exciting field that truly impacts lives. I believe we face the challenge of doing a better job to communicate this to potential students around the country. Some of the publications that ASCO has produced really do that well. The “True Stories” brochure eloquently captures how much our profession can do for patients. Those communications go a long way about informing people about our profession. We can and must keep doing more to attract the best and the brightest.

ASCO: What will be some of your top priorities this year?

DD: Dr. Zadnik got us started on the strategic planning process so my top priority is to finalize our Comprehensive Strategic Plan and to start its implementation. Specifically, the number one priority is to build our applicant pool. I want to increase our effectiveness in various operations, to give our staff better resources, and to better communicate with our volunteers. We need to continue to take advantage of our great, new Executive Director, Dawn Mancuso. We’re excited for the direction ASCO is going in.

ASCO: What are your ideas to help the ASCO staff further the Strategic Plan?

DD: I hope to visit the ASCO office when we’re in D.C. this year and meet with the staff. I had been there when I became Dean four years ago and I look forward to seeing everyone. In my past work with the staff, I have found them to be great to work with and passionate about the profession. I want to make sure that we can capture that passion and give them what they need in terms of volunteers and resources to carry out the Strategic Plan.

ASCO:  What drew you to optometry? What did you find most appealing about the field of optometry?

DD: I initially thought I would go into law. During my gap year between college and graduate school, I was talking to my Doctor of Optometry about going to law school and he said he didn’t picture me as a lawyer. He told me he thought I would be a great optometrist. He convinced me to spend a day at his office, where I saw many different aspects of optometry, including vision therapy, which I found eye-opening. He turned my whole perspective around and I went to optometry school for the next 4 years.

Two things have really continued my passion for optometry. The first is the patients I have seen over the years. One of the greatest things about optometry is that you impact people for the rest of their lives. I had a private practice in the mid-90’s in Rochester and had many patients. Twenty years after selling that practice, I am still receiving letters and calls from, and running into at professional conferences, former patients who thank me for turning their lives around.

The second thing that has continued my passion for optometry is that I had tremendous mentors in my career. Even before I was in school, my optometrist changed my life path. Those mentors really inspired me and moved me forward.

ASCO: What drew you to teaching? How did you become so passionate about optometric education?

DD: When I was in private practice, I loved the patients and the impact we were having on their lives, but what I hadn’t expected was the teaching bug had really bit me when I was a clinical assistant professor at SUNY. As a Doctor of Optometry you impact a lot of lives, but as an optometric educator, you impact all the lives of the students’ patients as well. It really is an exponential impact. I’m very passionate enlarging the future of our profession and what we can do for patients. I felt the most effective way to do that was to get into optometric education.

It was a privilege to work with Dr. Billy Cochran, who was president of Southern College of Optometry at the time, who made a big impact in what I saw in optometric education and who taught me strong leadership qualities. Working with people like him and others in optometric education has really shown me this is a great way to serve the profession as well as to enrich and enlarge the profession. This ASCO presidency term is just another step in my attempt to serve this profession that I love so much.

ASCO: If you were speaking with a student who is interested in becoming a Doctor of Optometry or with a student who has the aptitude but may not know about optometry, what advice would you give them?

DD: I would ask them, “How do you picture yourself living the rest of your life and in your career? Do you want to serve others and influence their ability to live better lives?” I think that optometry is a great way to do that, which is not readily apparent – making it even more important. We need our visual systems to serve us comfortably and tirelessly throughout the day, and there is no other profession that can address that need. I would say to a student that becoming an optometrist gives you the opportunity to impact the success of others throughout their whole life.

ASCO: On a more personal note, tell us a little about your life outside of the workplace. What was the last vacation you took? What are some of your hobbies?

DD: My son studied for a semester in Florence. He was studying architecture – couldn’t convince him to do optometry! He does make an impact on vision though, as architecture affects the buildings and infrastructure we look at every day. We visited him in Florence and then also went to London and Paris. That was a great trip. Our daughter had also spent a semester abroad in London so when we went to London on this trip, she showed us around that big city. I love traveling because I always try to keep my mind open to what other people experience. I find that it enriches my mind to know what other people’s experiences are like.

As for hobbies, I do a lot of reading and too much binge watching of Netflix and Hulu. I’m very excited for the new season of Kimmy Schmidt to come out. What I miss about my time in New York was I saw a lot of plays and watched a lot of baseball games. I don’t do a lot of that anymore, but I used to love doing that.

ASCO: You have served as the Dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University since 2013. Tell us a little about your school and your experience being a proud Bulldog. What have been some of your favorite things about living in Michigan?

DD: I never saw myself as a Dean but someone who knew my passion for the profession convinced me to apply for the job at Ferris State University. I interviewed and I loved it. The people up here are wonderful. One of the best things about being a Bulldog is that the people at Ferris State University are passionate about the students. The population is incredibly diverse. A lot of students are first generation college students. I was the first in my family to attend college, so for me, I feel a real personal connection there.

Michigan is similar to where I grew up in upstate New York so it was like coming home when I came to this job. After 16 years in Memphis, which is very different than New York, it really felt like coming home. It’s great to have four seasons again. After you make it through the cold winter, you are rewarded with the beautiful spring, summer, and fall. Big Rapids is a cute, small town and because it’s a college town there are many activities to do. It’s just been a really great move for us.

ASCO: And lastly, our intern, Amanda, is graduating this May and plans to pursue a career in public health in the future. Amanda asks, what common behaviors do you believe are strongly affecting the vision of the public? What advice do you have for someone who is passionate about improving vision at the broader level of public health?

DD: Vision is one of those aspects of daily life that people do not recognize impacts them. I hear people all the time say, “I have trouble looking at a map for directions,” and “I fall asleep when I read.” All of those are symptoms of different visual problems. I think that’s a big public health need – to educate the public on why their vision is so important. Itching eyes, fatigue, and headaches are all often caused by visual problems. We also have a public health crisis in this country with diabetes. Everyday Doctors of Optometry are making the first diagnosis of diabetes through the their detection of the ocular signs of diabetes.

I think the biggest impact on public health our profession could make is to convince more people to come into an optometrist’s office for a comprehensive eye exam. I can’t tell you how many people have never had an eye exam because they believe they can see 20/20. At the same time, though, a lot of those people hate reading and always skip around on pages and they often feel really fatigued when working on the computer. It’s a shame that 20/20 is assumed to be perfect vision when 20/20 vision is only one aspect of visual health.

People struggle with settling with their vision every day because they don’t realize they’re struggling. Many people are losing their vision to diabetes and glaucoma. This is a real public health problem and optometrists must work with public health officials and other healthcare practitioners to improve everyone’s visual welfare.

Thank you for your time Dr. Damari! We wish you the best of luck as president!



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