The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has announced the recipients of two of its awards: International Blindness Prevention Award and Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award. The recipients will be recognised at AAO’s annual meeting in 2021.
International Blindness Prevention Award
The International Blindness Prevention Award, established in 1992, honors an individual who has made significant contributions to reducing blindness and/or restoring sight worldwide.
The 2020 Award has been given to Larry Schwab, MD, one of the recipients of our Vision Excellence Awards.
Dr. Schwab was selected for the award by the Global Education and Outreach Committee for his global impact in three areas: 1) long-term collaboration, networking and consulting in policy, planning and implementing blindness prevention programs; 2) direct care, teaching and training clinical officers, medical assistants and nurses in the developing world, particularly Africa and Asia, and 3) speaking, advocating and supporting blindness prevention programs at academic institutions, medical societies, communities and with international health officials throughout his career.
Dr. Schwab’s career in caring for underserved populations began as soon as he completed his medical training at West Virginia University. Following his internship at New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, he became a captain in the US Army Medical Corps and went to Vietnam, where he served first as a general medical officer in a surgical hospital. He then spent six months in combat as a battalion surgeon, and was awarded two bronze stars, one for meritorious service and for valor for heroism in ground combat operations as a non-combatant.
The Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award recognizes Academy members for contributions in charitable activities, care of the indigent and community service performed above and beyond the typical duties of an ophthalmologist.
The 2020 recipients are: Steve A. Arshinoff, MD and John E. Kempen, MD.
Dr. John Kempen was nominated by Harvard Medical School for his creative and effective model to help patients in great need. In 2014, Dr. Kempen co-founded Sight for Souls, a nonprofit corporation with the goal of bringing sustainable, high-quality eye care to developing regions of the world. He took the noble journey of leadership through sacrifice, giving up his tenured professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 to move with his family to Ethiopia, where he created, launched and developed an innovative, robust and academically oriented Center of Excellence in Addis Ababa. Read more on him.
Dr. Steve Arshinoff was nominated by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society for his continued involvement with the Medical Mobile Eye Care Unit (MMECU). He joined this initiative as a resident at the University of Toronto in 1978 and has continued his involvement for the past 42 years. Since 1998, Dr. Arshinoff has been the medical director of the MMECU programme. In this capacity, he organizes the programme, secures funds, upgrades the facilities, leads the medical team and provides eye care. Read more on him.