Henry Hua, OD ’17, is the first Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry graduate to serve on the California Optometric Association (COA) Board of Trustees.
Dr. Hua was installed as a Trustee in February 2023. He said he is active in local, state and national organizations because “optometry is a legislated profession. This means decisions made by state and federal lawmakers have a direct and long-lasting impact on optometrists and patients. There is constant debate over the scope of practice for optometrists and being able to practice what optometrists are trained to do in school. In 2008, optometrists were granted the privilege to diagnose and treat glaucoma. Optometrists are also able to perform laser surgery in 10 states.
“Our privileges and rights were granted because leaders in our profession advocated for it,” Hua added. “That’s why it’s important for our profession to grow and to protect all the rights and privileges we have now. It is possible to lose our privileges if we don’t have a strong enough group of leaders who are protecting us.”
In addition, staying active in professional organizations keeps students and new graduates up to date on constantly-evolving technologies, laws, and medications, said Hua, who owns and practices at Almaden Optometric Associates in San Jose, California.
“So much has changed, even from when I graduated,” said Hua, who graduated from WesternU in 2017. “Every time I go to a local or state meeting, I really enjoy the networking and meeting other leaders in the profession. The camaraderie of the profession is what keeps us strong.”
Hua served as the president of San Francisco Optometric Society and completed the American Optometric Association Leadership Institute Program. He began attending optometric society events in his first month of optometry school.
“Life in school is very different from life after graduation. It was imperative to see the process that is involved in the decision-making for the practices and laws of optometry,” Hua said. “Meeting and watching the optometric leaders back when I was a student motivated me to stay involved. It felt like family. I learned a lot just by talking to people, and seeing the difference they’re making, not just in what laws can be enacted, but by influencing and motivating the future generation of students.”
The College of Optometry’s Vision is to be a progressive leader in optometric education and to improve the way health care is delivered worldwide, said College of Optometry Founding Dean Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH.
“Dr. Hua’s dedication to our profession fulfills that vision and serves as an inspiration for all members of our College community,” she said. “We are all so proud of him for this amazing accomplishment so early in his professional career.”