Greetings AVAO Members and Potential Members:

It has been an exciting year for the AVAO Organization. I would like to thank all the AVAO executive

board members for their commitment to our monthly conference calls (which can be lengthy), and

their contributions to these discussions. The participants in these monthly calls include AVAO

leadership, VA National Program Director of Ophthalmology, Ophthalmology Surgical Advisory

Board (SAB) Chair, Ophthalmology Field Advisory Committee (FAC) Chair, VA/DoD Center of

Excellence Leadership, the AVAO Councilor to the AAO, JCAHPO Representative and the Secretariat for State Affairs. This collective expertise provides an excellent team to deal with upcoming issuesof national policy and legislation relevant to our Veterans’ care. In addition, Rebecca Hyder, the AAO Director of Congressional Affairs, has been nothing but helpful in keeping us informed of all the happenings at Capitol Hill.

Our AVAO Executive Board is actively engaged to represent the wide variety of interests of the VA

Ophthalmologists, and to ensure the highest quality of eye care for veterans. Although our

membership has been stable, we feel that it is key to reach out to all VA ophthalmologists in order

to solidify our mission. In order to accomplish these goals, I would like to detail some of what the

AVAO organization is involved with. Below is a brief summary:

i)    Organize the AVAO Annual Business meeting. This year we will have a special visit

by Congressman Bergman (MI), who sits on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

All VA Ophthalmologists, both AVAO members and non-members, are invited to attend.

AVAO Activities at the AAO Annual Meeting

AVAO members, who are attending the AAO Annual Meeting

in New Orleans, should plan to participate in the following AVAO activities

on Monday, November 13

Annual AVAO Breakfast Business Meeting

7-10 AM Marriot Convention Center, Blaine Kern Ballroom A & B.

*Seating is limited. Please RSVP by clicking HERE.

ii)    Organize the VA/DOD Noontime Symposium. This Symposium will examine the

evolution of management of combat eye care and vision rehabilitation in the DoD and

VA. We have assembled an exciting panel to discuss this topic and all are welcome to


VA/DOD Noontime Symposium

World War I to Now: The Evolution of Combat Eye Care and Rehabilitation in the DoD and VA

Across 100 Years of Conflict.

12:45pm to 1:45pm

Room: 239

            iii)   Develop a Communication Network among VA Ophthalmologists

                    a. Established a national VA Ophthalmology list-serve

                    b. Maintained the AVAO website., which can be found at:


                    c. Our current Secretary, Jennifer Lindsey MD, created the VA Ophthalmology Pulse

                    group in 2015. This has a number of resources (not requiring a VA log-in) which


  1. Resources for ICD-10 conversion

  2. VA handbook updates

  3. RME SOP’s

  4. Sample PD’s for lead and supervisory technicians

  5. Listing of VA directives (eg. compounding solutions)

  6. Forum for a variety of discussions (eg I-stent, Femto-second technology)

VA Pulse:

  1.                     d. Now able to Tweet important updates on formulary and policy.

            iv) Advocate for increased VA salaries for VA Ophthalmologists. In the recent past, the

                AVAO strongly advocated for the increases in pay table 3, which took effect in 2016.

                This year, the AVAO joined leadership of the AAO and AUPO to advocate for

                ophthalmology to be moved from pay table 3 to pay table 4. We are awaiting the

                outcome of the VA’s latest review of physician and dentist compensation as required by

                the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act

                (Public Law 108-445).

            v) Advocate for a large number of issues affecting VA ophthalmology. Some of these

            topics include:

                    i. Hybrid 38 program for Ophthalmology Technicians. This series will expand

                        the pay scale of eye technicians based on skill level.

                    ii. Patient Access and Low Vision services, involved in the continuum of

                        Care/Low Vision Program

                    iii. Technology-based Eye Care Services (TECS) that seeks to ensure care to

                        veterans in rural areas.


                For more detail on these and other topics, please see the attached Dr. Paul Greenberg’s

                AAO Councilor’s Report.


The AVAO is a non-profit organization that is completely self-supported and cannot accept any

commercial support. Your dues directly support our annual AAO events, management expenses,

monthly Executive Board conference calls, contributions to the Surgery by Surgeons campaign and

to the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) education

foundation, and support for an Advocacy Ambassador to attend the AAO Mid-Year Forum meeting.

A full Treasurer’s report will be reviewed at the Annual Business Meeting.

To date, the AVAO membership is comprised of 92 paid and 86 unpaid members for a total of 178

members. Historically, we have been just short of 100 members. We feel that it is critical to our

mission to expand our membership, and thus our network in order to meet some of the demands

facing VA ophthalmology today.

I would like to ask respectfully for each member to reach out and recruit one additional

member as we move into the next year.

New membership forms can be accessed on our website:

Membership renewals can also be processed online with a credit card payment, by logging into

your profile via the AVAO website ( If you do not recall your username or

password, please contact Tim Losch at If you have not already done so, please

RSVP for the Annual Business Meeting. All prospective members are welcome to our business

meeting this year. The AVAO Treasurer, Dr. Lyle Thorstenson, will also collect dues (check, credit

card or cash) at the Annual Business Meeting.

Lastly, I would like to thank all our membership over the years for their support of the AVAO. We

have come a long way, as our business meetings used to occur over a coffee table. I would also like

to thank our board, as they have signed on to at least an eight-year commitment.

With gratitude,


AVAO Executive Board

President:  Andrew Thliveris, PhD, MD

Vice-President:  David Vollman, MD, MBA

Treasurer:  Lyle Thorstenson, MD

Secretary:  Jennifer Lindsey MD

  Councilor to AAO:  Paul Greenberg, MD

Surgery Advisory Board Chair:  Marty Farber, MD

Immediate Past Presidents: Millie Palmer, MD Joy Dixon Strawn, MD, Linda Margulies, MD

FAC Chair/JCHAPO Representative:  Mary Lynch, MD

Vision Center of Excellence Deputy Director:  David Eliason MD

National Program Director:  Glenn Cockerham, MD

Other Conference Call Attendees

AAO Director, Congressional Affairs:  Rebecca Hyder 

AVAO Client Services Manager:  Tim Losch with SF AMS 


The President’s Report 2017

Click to download the 2017 AVAO President Report

Click to download the 2017 AVAO Councilor Report

Click to download the 2017 FAC Ophthalmology Minutes

Click to download the 2017 FAC Ophthalmology Pharmacy Minutes