At first, NOLA seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about our future profession, meet our future colleagues, try new technologies, and see a famous city. At second thought, two exams and one project made me second guess if I should really be going on this trip. However, if your first exam back is an optometry exam, then the best place to study is a town full of optometrists. While studying NRA/PRA during our layover in Atlanta, we ended up asking a Resident (from a different school) for his help.
Once we arrived in NOLA, the notes were set aside. We decided to try some New Orleans cuisine before attending our first Academy meeting. I had the brisket and mac and cheese, someone else tried fried gator. Throughout the trip I tried the famous beignets at Cafe Du Monde, a po’ boy, a Pig Mac, another brisket, and ribs (which were amazing.) However, you might note that I had no seafood, and as a stranger on the street told me, I was in the wrong town to eat.
After eating, we visited what we really came for: the American Academy of Optometry. We got our name tags, put on our ribbons (student, new member, first academy!) While I won’t bore you with all the details, I will share some of my memorable experiences.
Some included great sales pitches, such as when we were talking about the automatic phoropter, and the salesman said that our patient would be more impressed with this than the 200 year old manual phoropter. We also met a salesman selling a new slit lamp that was more accessible for “Americans,” a.k.a. larger people. We had to remind them that we were only second year students, and promised to come talk to them when we were looking to buy.
The Smart Vision Labs had us try out the SVOne, a smartphone-based autorefractor. We saw blue light lenses that block blue lights, and different types of trial frame lenses. I got to try 1-Day Acuvue Define (my eyes are too dark for shimmer and shine,) which made my iris look huge. I got a Cup-to-Disc Ratio guide and I got to pick some informational posters. Of course, I got a fews bags and beads (we were in New Orleans, after all.)
Even though Saturday and Sunday were filled with cramming for optometry and trying to catch up for the upcoming week, Academy was worth the panic of studying. It was a great opportunity and a great reminder of why we are studying to become optometrists. I wish I could go into every detail of Academy, but it would be too long to write, and too long to read. My only advice is if you haven’t gone, you should start planning your trip for next year. I can’t wait to go again, and next year’s is in Anaheim (Warm weather? Yes, please!)