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Essilor Of America, Rick Bay Foundation And SUNY Optometry Names Inaugural Innovator Award

By Essilor News

March 7, 2016

Essilor of America, Jobson’s Rick Bay Foundation and SUNY Optometry, today announced that Vanessa Fimreite, a fourth year OD student, is the first recipient of the SUNY Student Innovator Award.  The $5,000 award, which was first announced at last year’s VM Global Leadership Summit, is designed to reward an original concept developed by a SUNY Optometry student that is impactful, viable and feasible in today’s optometric practice. 

Ms. Fimreite’s winning idea, MAVA: Mobile Acuity and Vision Assessment, will be presented for the first time publicly to the attendees at this year’s upcoming VM Global Leadership Summit on April 13.

The competition began last fall when students were invited to submit abstracts related to innovations or improvements in clinical eye care, research, practice management, optometric education, health care policy, community education, technology, social media and more.

“Jobson’s Rick Bay Foundation is thrilled to be able to work with Essilor and the SUNY College of Optometry in awarding the first SUNY Student Innovator Award,” said Marc Ferrara, CEO, Information Services for Jobson Medical Information. “The Student Innovator Award program is a unique partnership which will encourage the next generation of optometry to bring impactful, innovative ideas to the profession and our industry.” 

These initial submissions were judged by a committee made up of SUNY Optometry faculty and administration and a short list of five innovations were chosen last December. Then, a judging panel made up of Marc Ferrara, CEO of Jobson Healthcare Information's Information Services Group, Dr. Howard Purcell, senior vice president of customer development at Essilor of America, Inc., as well as SUNY Optometry’s Richard Madonna, OD, professor and chair of Clinical Education, Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez, vice president for clinical administration and executive director of the University Eye Center and David Troilo, PhD, vice president and dean for academic affairs was put together to view the presentations on February 12.  After the presentations were completed, the judges convened to pick a winner which they announced during a reception after the event. 

“The future of optometry is important to Essilor, and through awards like this, we have an opportunity to recognize optometry students whose ideas have the potential to make a lasting impact on our industry,” said Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, and senior vice president of customer development, Essilor of America.  “It’s a privilege for me to witness firsthand the caliber of ideas and thinking coming from these students and know that the future of optometry is in very good hands.”  

In addition to Ms. Fimreite’s winning innovation, third year OD student, Michael Wallerich was invited by Dr. Purcell to pitch his unique idea to Essilor’s research and development team in Dallas.

“One of our goals at the College is to nurture a strong intellectual curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit in our students,” said SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath, OD, EdM. “This event really helped to bring out those qualities. I was very impressed by the innovations that our students presented and I look forward to seeing what ideas our students develop in the years to come.”

In addition to Fimreite, the other SUNY finalists who presented their ideas included:

Patrick Doty (Class of 2017) and Clare Tao (Class of 2017) for Model of a Modern (Sports Vision) Practice; Kar To Ip (Class of 2017), Karen Molina (Class of 2017) and Kevin Zhang (Class of 2017) for Phundus: Interactive Visual Database; Linda Shi (Class of 2017) and Alan Tsai (Class of 2017) for OptimEyes: The Solution to Solutions; and Michael Wallerich (Class of 2017) for LensIQ - Optimizing Care with a Modern Solution.


About SUNY College of Optometry 
Founded in 1971, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a public, fully accredited, professional college of optometry and vision science. Located in New York City, the College is a leader in the education of optometrists and vision scientists, research in vision science and comprehensive patient care.  

About Essilor of America, Inc.

Essilor is the leading manufacturer of optical lenses in the United States and is the market leader in progressive, high-index, photochromic and anti-reflective coated lenses. A pioneer in the development and production of ophthalmic lenses, Essilor employs more than 10,000 people throughout North America. Essilor manufactures optical lenses under the VARILUX®, CRIZAL®, TRANSITIONS®, XPERIO UV™, DEFINITY®, THIN&LITE® and other Essilor brand names. Essilor Laboratories of America, Inc is the largest, and most trusted, optical lab network in the U.S. and offers a wide choice of services and lens brands, including Essilor premium lenses, to eyecare professionals across the nation. Essilor of America, Inc. (Essilor) is a subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International, a publicly held company traded on the Euronext Paris stock exchange (Reuters: ESSI.PA).

Greg Houle
Director of Communications for SUNY College of Optometry