The History of The American Optometric Association

Have you ever been curious about how the rules and regulations that all optometrists follow came to be? It started with the founding of The American Optometric Association! 


Our eyes have been one of the most incredible and delicate organs we’ve had since the dawning of time. The dedication, study, care, and science of our eyes doesn’t have as long a history, and modern medicine was born even later than that. Sure, the care of our eyes does date back to as long as we could care for ourselves or have someone else care for them. But, medieval and ancient practices are not ones we like to look back on, especially when it comes to our eyes. Thankfully, things all changed thanks to the American Industrial Revolution, which not only brought on the birth of modern medicine, it also brought on the birth of the American Optometric Association. 

  • Who They Are 

Founded in 1898, the American Optometric Association has been the “leading authority on quality care” for the care of human eyes since its very beginning. According to their website, the AOA represents over 40,000 doctors of optometry, students, and optometric professionals. Each of these individuals helps provide lifelong care for your eyes’ health. These professionals are responsible to examine, diagnose, and treat any disorder, disease, or injury that appears in the eye. 

  • The History 

 The AOA was founded in New York City, an association that finally represented those who cared for the eyes of American citizens and would help guarantee the quality of care they would now be receiving. To this day, the AOA strives to be an advocate for the quality of eye care and continues to research to improve eye care. When it first began, it was called the American Association of Opticians, with 183 members across 31 states and Canada. In 1910, the name changed to the American Optical Association, to finally reaching its current name of the American Optometric Association in 1919. In its first two years, the association was fairly open for those to join in the medical field. It wasn’t limited to just optometrists until 1900. Not only was it founded to provide the best care and research, but the foundation has also been an active force in raising the bar in the quality of life and in giving back to humanity itself. The AOA is the reason behind the vision tests we have at the DMV and the reason why a code of ethics exists in the industry. They continue to strive to be leaders in education, setting a professional standard, and beyond. They’ve kept this as part of their mantra since day one. 

  • The Impact

One of the biggest steps in giving back came in 2006 when the AOA created Optometry Cares, a nonprofit organization that would change the world of optometry forever. This foundation would change the face of providing care for those in need, too. It led to the founding of the Endowment and a Scholarship fund for future optometric students, InfanteSEE, which we are proudly a part of, and Vision USA. Today, the AOA’s headquarters is in St. Louis and has offices in Virginia. Along with setting a standard for care and research, the AOA fights politically on behalf of those in the profession of optometry and those within its care. It even has its own Journal, “Optometry – Journal of The American Optometric Association” that is now published on their website. 

  • Conclusion

Thanks to the AOA, our eyes will be cared for, protected, and continue to be looked after with new developments. This will be guaranteed all while the AOA continues to set a standard policy granted to everyone who receives care. If anything, the AOA’s mission statement is something that resonates for all of us: “Advocate for the profession and serve optometrists in meeting the eye care needs of the public”. We proudly follow in the AOA’s rich 122-year history and strive to offer the best care we can to our patients based on the principles the AOA has set. We hope this little insight into our history gives you an idea of what importance we put into our standards of care and service. We are always here to answer any questions you might have and to discuss your best options. We are always here to support you and your family! Until next time, we are here for all of your eye care needs!

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