“”I’d like to introduce you to the future of our profession.””

Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe’s words, and all the hope and pride connected to them, hung in the air of Lecture Hall I Saturday, April 10, as dozens of optometry students came to their feet at the start of the International Congress of Behavioral Optometry’s (ICBO) day on campus at Western University of Health Sciences.

Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, founding dean of WesternU’s College of Optometry, started the day’s activities with opening remarks that acknowledged all the work that went into mounting the Congress, and highlighted some of the qualities that make WesternU’s College of Optometry – the newest in the United States, with an inaugural class of 78 students who began their studies in August 2009 – special.

Hoppe saved her highest praise for the students, who came to WesternU based on “”a picture, a pile of dirt and a promise,”” she said, alluding to a campus expansion project that was still in its early stages when students began applying for the optometry program. The expansion, which is nearly complete, included the four-story, 187,000-square-foot Health Education Center where the ICBO was held, and which is home to the College of Optometry’s administrative offices and its clinical skills lab.

“”I want you to know how much they inspire me,”” Hoppe said of the students.

ICBO is only held once every four years, and includes professionals from the fields of optometry, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, education, neuroscience and others. The 6th International ICBO met April 8-11, 2010 at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario and on WesternU’s Pomona campus. WesternU, the Optometric Extension Program (OEP) Foundation and the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, International (NORA) were co-sponsors of the event.

Conference attendees – about 525 from 17 countries, including 100 optometry students representing 10 schools – sat in on presentations ranging from advances in vision therapy to the fundamental role of vision in cognition, behavior, and social organization, and from managing amblyopia to handling cross-examination questions during a court trial. Saturday’s sessions at WesternU included “”Vision – What Has It Done for Me Lately?””, “”Where is the ‘Magic’ in Vision Therapy?””, and “”Diary of an Expert Witness.””

Several WesternU faculty provided education during the conference: