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Sen. Robert Byrd Receives AOA Health Care Leadership Award

Optometrists Recognize Efforts to Safeguard Sight, Promote Healthy Vision

for Children and Expand Access to Care

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) was recognized for providing important leadership on health care policy issues by doctors of optometry from his district and their national organization, the 34,000 member American Optometric Association (AOA). Optometrists in West Virginia and the AOA are working to pass legislation before Congress designed to safeguard sight, promote healthy vision among school-aged children and ensure access to much-needed primary eye and vision care.

"Sen. Byrd is a true leader in Congress on health care issues," said Kevin Alexander, O.D., Ph.D., AOA president. "He listens to the concerns of doctors and patients from across her district, and is a worthy recipient of the 2008 Health Care Leadership Award."

With support from Sen. Byrd, the AOA-backed Vision Care for Kids Act (HR 507), was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 16, 2007. HR 507 would establish a federal grant program aimed at bolstering children's vision and learning initiatives developed by the states.

"I'm proud of Sen. Byrd and the work that he's doing in Congress for our communities," said Norma Bowyer, O.D of Morgantown, WV. "My members and I know that Sen. Byrd is committed to making sure health care is a top priority in Washington, DC and that important bills like the Vision Care for Kids Act are passed and signed into law."

About the American Optometric Association (AOA)

The American Optometric Association represents more than 34,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Doctors of optometry have the skills and training to provide more than two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists undergo three to four years of undergraduate study that typically culminates in a Bachelor of Science degree in a field such as biology or chemistry. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Matthew Willette

O: 703-837-1001

SOURCE American Optometric Association
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