History of the Indiana Optometric Association

The Indiana Optometric Association began on December 10, 1897, as the Indiana Optical Society. The first meeting was called to organize opposition to proposed legislation at the state house. The following day the name was changed to the Indiana Optometrical Society, and an attorney was hired to assist in their activities. A bill was drawn which deleted the optical reference in that year’s medical bill. This was the Association’s first successful endeavor.

The next meeting wasn’t held until 1901, again to oppose a reference to opticians in the medical bill.

During the years that followed the group was known as the Indiana State Optical Society, the Indiana Association of Optometrists and the Indiana Optometrical Society. The Association did instigate successful and favorable amendments to the medical bill in 1913 and 1919. In 1922 there were 197 active members who initiated the first "Save Your Vision Week" and during that year the first American Optometric Association meeting was held in Indianapolis.

An attempt was also made to initiate an eye exam for all Indiana drivers. Two years later, the Indiana organizational suggestions for the AOA were accepted by the national congress.

During 1927 and 1928 defensive legislative preparations were discussed, and dues were raised to $15. At the 1928 convention, Dr. A.M. Skeffington and Dr. W. B. Needles were guest speakers. The Optometry law was amended again in 1929.

In 1933 the Association began to formulate a Code of Ethics which was adopted in 1938. Also, the Indiana Board of Examiners passed a ruling requiring a year’s internship before a license could be granted.

In 1935, amendments to the Optometry Act removed the prohibition for the use of drugs and added the still current "by any means" language to the act.

The eye test for driver’s licenses was adopted in 1941. A year later many of Indiana’s O.D.s were drafted into the war effort.

After the war, because of the difficulty in training returning optometrists, efforts began to establish an Optometry School at an Indiana college or university. The state legislature finally mandated the school, and the bill was signed into law by Governor Schriker. Indiana University President, Dr. Herman Wells appointed Deans Briscoe and Harman and selected Dr. Henry Hofstetter as Optometry’s Dean. The I.U. School of Optometry has maintained a standard as one of the top optometric educational facilities in the world. Ever since the establishment of the School, the Indiana Optometric Association has been committed to the advancement of optometric education. Each state meeting has been loaded with the nation’s top optometric speakers. The Indiana law now requires a minimum number of educational hours for relicensure.

During this period an office was acquired to house the Association, and Robert Kimbro, Jr. was engaged as Executive Director. Kimbro eventually moved to the American Optometric Association, and Ronald Wuensch was appointed to the position in 1961. During Wuensch’s tenure, the association expanded its relationship with other professions, including pharmacy, nursing, podiatry and more recently dentistry and medicine. Wuensch retired in September 2005 after 44 years of dedicated service to the Association.

Over the last quarter century the professional status of Optometry has reached an impressive and notable level in the State of Indiana due to the efforts of the Indiana Optometric Association.

(Condensed from a text by Dr. D. R. Reed)