Retina Fellow at New England Eye Center
to Represent The Retina Society
in AAO Ambassador Program

J. Sonya Bryant, MD is 2nd year Retina Fellow

BOSTON, MA February 09, 2012 – J. Sonya Bryant, MD, a second-year Retina Fellow at New England Eye Center has been selected to represent The Retina Society in the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Ambassador Program. She will attend the AAO Midyear Forum in Washington, DC, April 25-28, 2012 as a guest of the two organizations. 

The Ambassador Program – a joint effort by the Academy and several partners including the Boston-based Retina Society – gives members-in-training a chance to get firsthand exposure to critical issues facing ophthalmology and the face-to-face meetings Academy advocates hold with their national legislators during Congressional Advocacy Day and the Mid-Year Forum in Washington, D.C.

"Dr. Bryant is a natural to be selected to the AAO Ambassador Program," said Elias Reichel, MD, New England Eye Center's Vice Chair for Research and Education and Director of the Vitreoretinal Service. "She's already been involved as a resident and has carried that through with her active participation in Academy programs as a fellow. It was with great enthusiasm that I nominated her for this program."

The Advocacy Ambassador Program was established in 2004 by the Secretariat for State Affairs to educate residents and fellows early in their careers about the importance of political action and involvement in organized ophthalmology at both the state and national levels. The secretariat collaborates with state, subspecialty and specialized interest societies, as well as ophthalmology training programs, to support the attendance of members-in-training at the Mid-Year Forum, Congressional Advocacy Day and the spring Council Meeting.

At the Mid-Year Forum, ambassadors get to attend sessions about hot topics and issues facing the profession. Then, during Congressional Advocacy Day, they are paired with seasoned ophthalmologists for visits with legislators and key care staff on Capitol Hill to discuss major issues affecting ophthalmology and medicine. At the Council Meeting, ambassadors are special guests and learn about the Council’s role as the policy advisory body to the Academy’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Bryant, who is board certified, said she has gained an increased interest over the last year in the regulatory, legislative and political issues impacting ophthalmologists. "As a fellow I have spent the last six years consumed with learning how to diagnosis and treat ocular diseases. My training environment shielded me from political and reimbursement issues. As I finish my training and look for new ways to expand my involvement in ophthalmology, I feel that attending the Mid-Year forum will provide me with a chance to cultivate my interest in this aspect of ophthalmology. I look forward to lobbying on the hill and collaborating with other ophthalmologists that share an interest in advocacy issues," she said.

Dr. Bryant is a graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine. She did an Ophthalmology residency at University of California-San Francisco and a Vitreoretinal Fellowship in Boston at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston and New England Eye Center at Tufts Medical Center.

"This fall I will be joining the Retina Group of Washington, DC. Attending the Mid-Year Forum will be a perfect catalyst to help me find Academy activities and initiatives in which I can get involved. I have also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Trex Topping, and his commitment for healthcare and policy has been an inspiration for me.  I hope that one day I can have one tenth of the impact on ophthalmology that he has," she said.

The Retina Society

The Retina Society began as an outgrowth of alumni meetings of Retina Associates, a retina practice founded in Boston in 1951 by Charles L. Schepens. Dr. Schepens is credited with establishing retina surgery as a sub-specialty. He subsequently became known internationally as the "father of modern retinal surgery." Through his efforts and those of his trainees, new surgical procedures were developed that doubled the success rate of retinal detachment surgery to 90%. By 1951, he established The Retina Foundation, which was destined to become the world's largest independent eye research institution. Even in the early years, he won awards for his accomplishment, including the New England Ophthalmological Prize for Outstanding Ophthalmic Achievement in 1953, and the coveted Pisart Vision Award in 1995.

The Retina Society's mission is to reduce worldwide visual disability and blindness by promoting the education and professional interaction of vitreoretinal specialists, providing optimal care for patients with vitreoretinal diseases, and encouraging, through clinical and basic research, the discovery and development of new means to further patient care.


The American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest national membership association of Eye M.D.s. Ophthalmologists are medical and osteopathic physicians who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the largest national membership association of Eye MDs – ophthalmologists, medical and osteopathic doctors who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care. More than 90 percent of practicing U.S. Eye MDs are Academy members, and the Academy has more than 7,000 international members.

The mission of the American Academy of Ophthalmology is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists (Eye MDs) to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care.

The Academy evolved as part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (AAOO), which was founded in 1896 primarily to provide continuing education to eye, ear, nose and throat doctors.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology was incorporated as an independent organization in 1979 when the AAOO was divided into separate academies for each specialty.

  • Founded in 1980, the Museum of Vision preserves the history of the Academy and strives to inspire an appreciation of vision science, the ophthalmic profession, and contributions made toward preventing blindness. Find out more about the history of ophthalmology and the Academy on the Museum of Vision website.
  • A detailed history of the origin of the Academy is also available online: Pioneering Specialists: A History of the American Academy of Ophthalmology


About New England Eye Center

New England Eye Center (NEEC) is the ophthalmology department for Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine. New England Eye Center offers a full range of comprehensive ophthalmology including treatments for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, pediatric ophthalmology and aesthetic surgery. New England Eye Center is also a leading provider of Laser Vision Correction in Greater Boston and New England offering a full range of vision correction procedures for all types of eye conditions.

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Contact: William R. Sacco, New England Eye Center
(617) 636-1055 or


J. Sonya Bryant, MD

J. Sonya Bryant, MD