Dr. Steven Reed of Southern Eye Care of Clinton named president-elect of American Optometric Assn.
Dr. Steven Reed of Southern Eye Care of Clinton recently became the first Mississippian to be elected President-Elect of the American Optometric Association (AOA).
Reed has served on the AOA Board of Trustees since 2016 and previously served as the president of the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA). The election to his latest role, Reed said, is something he hopes to use to advance his organization’s cause and improve the health of Americans.
“Our goal as a board is to create and track our strategic plan and objectives. One of our objectives is continually educating the general public on the need for a comprehensive eye examination.”
A challenge to that goal, he said, is that many people view their eyes as a separate part of their body. However, from a medical point of view, Reed said the old adage that the “eyes are the windows to the soul” rings true.
Through programming from the AOA and its members, as well as lobbying at the state and national level, Reed said he hopes to reinforce the need for annual eye exams and inspire people to take care of their eyes.
“At last count, there were more than 270 diseases that display signs and symptoms in the eyes,” he said. “So really, eye examinations should be part of someone’s overall health care.
“In the 30 years I’ve been in practice, I’ve diagnosed brain tumors, diabetics, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, and many other diseases,” Reed added. “And that’s what we (the AOA) want people to understand: Eye care is part of your overall health care strategy.”
One of the campaigns Reed is helping lead as part of his President-Elect role is called “Eye Deserve More.” The campaign pinpoints members of the public that might neglect their vision. Most recently, the campaign has been focused on gamers, people who spend long hours on either computers or gaming systems, staring at a digital screen.
By emphasizing the importance of eye health amid hours of screen time, Reed said AOA metrics show the campaign has been successful in motivating members of the public to get their eyes examined.
In addition to promoting overall eye health, Reed said his role as president-elect also encompasses liaison work with other states. As president-elect, Reed serves as a liaison to Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“As liaison trustee, my role is to be a resource on the national level to assist their leadership as needed. This symbiotic relationship strengthens our profession and improves patient care.”
Other objectives Reed said he hopes to accomplish during his one-year term as president-elect include enacting a federal law to fight vision insurance plan abuses.
“Vision plans in general are really not concerned about patient care,” Reed said. “They’re concerned about their bottom line. The rules we have to follow with many vision plans often end up costing patients more, and limiting their choices. Also, many of them force us to use their labs, causing needless delays in products for patients. We’re hitting this from all angles. Patients deserve better service.”
As president-elect, Reed serves as a liaison to several committees within the AOA, including the Sports and Performance Committee, the Federal Relations Committee, the Advocacy Committee, the Political Action Committee, and the Meetings Committee.
A graduate of Southern College of Optometry, Reed is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a BS in Biochemistry. He is the 2010 and 2016 recipient of MOA’s James P. Brownlee Optometrist of the Year Award.
In addition to Southern Eye Care of Clinton, Reed co-owns and operates Southern Eye Care Clinics in Flowood, Forest and Vicksburg and is owner of Family Vision in Magee, Collins, and Prentiss.