Three Ghanaian-trained optometrists have received the William C. Ezell Fellowships, one of the highest awards of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) at the completed joint conference of the AAO and Third World Congress of Optometry (WCO).
Heinz Otchere, Afua Oteng Asare and Eugene Appenteng Osae were honoured at the Congress held at Orlando, Florida.
The prestigious Ezell Fellowship named after Dr William C. Ezell, the founder of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation, recognises talented optometric researchers from around the world who are pursuing careers in research and education.
Dr Heinz Otchere received the American Academy of Optometry Foundation Robert Mandell Ezell Club Fellow 2019.
He is the first Ghanaian to be honoured for such a noble and prestigious award; the seventh awardee from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
He is a former graduate of University of Waterloo and University of Cape Coast.
Early this year, he was honoured with School of Optometry of 1948 Graduate Scholarship Endowment Award and University of Waterloo Graduate Scholarship at the annual School of Optometry and Vision Science Awards ceremony held on 15th April 2019.
Also, he is a two-time recipient of Shire Pharma Canada ULC Student Fellowship 2018/2019. He is currently pursuing his doctoral program at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
He is under the supervision of renowned cornea and contact lens expert Professor Luigina Sorbara who has more than thirty years of rich experience in her field.
Dr Otchere’s research focuses on modalities of using speciality contact lens designs in the management of complex corneal conditions such as dry eyes which affect an estimated 20 million people globally.
He believes that the outcome of his research will help millions of people in the management of such a debilitating condition and to advance the frontiers of vision science.
Dr Afua Oteng Asare was honoured as the Vision Impact Institute Ezell Fellow for the year 2019.
She is a former graduate of Harvard University, Boston, USA, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
In 2018/19, she was awarded the Ross C. Purse Doctoral Fellowship by the Canadian National Institute of the Blind. She has also been a recipient of the Vision Science Research Program Award for three consecutive years (Fall 2017-2019) and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in 2017.
Afua is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Supervised by Drs. Agnes Wong and Daphne Maurer, her research focuses on the potential impacts of socioeconomic status on the utilization of vision care services and the cost-effectiveness of vision screening to detect amblyopia (‘lazy eye’) in young children in Ontario, Canada.
She intends to impact public policy narratives on the prevention of irreversible vision loss caused by amblyopia which negatively impacts productivity, quality of life and socioeconomic status of individuals and governments.
Dr Osae also received the Danne Ventura – Essilor Ezell Fellow and he is the first Ghanaian to be honoured for this award. He is a clinician-scientist and a product of KNUST and a former research fellow of the Ocular Surface Group at the University of Cologne, Germany.
His work has previously earned him the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Developing Country Eye Researcher Fellowship and more recently the American Academy of Optometry Foundation’s Joseph T. Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award.
Dr Osae is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston, College of Optometry, Houston, Texas, USA.
His research, under the esteemed mentorship of Prof. Alan Burns, focuses on understanding the Meibomian glands and their contribution to tear film stability and how the pathology of these glands can lead to dry eye disease – an ocular surface condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
He is confident that his research will bring hope to those that suffer Meibomian gland dysfunction and the associated dry eye disease, particularly among specialized groups of people living with autoimmune disorders and metabolic syndrome.