Andrew D. Pucker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FSLS, UAB School of Optometry assistant professor, recently earned his Diplomate in the Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies from the American Academy of Optometry (AAO).

This distinction is bestowed upon those who are recognized as the best in their field and who display the knowledge and skills needed to be an expert. There are only about 300 Diplomates in the world, and many see this to be the highest distinction in optometry.

To be considered for this designation, Pucker completed the research track through the AAO's Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses, and Refractive Technologies. He was required to publish at least 10 peer-reviewed manuscripts in a topic area. He also wrote a 101-page manuscript titled Symptoms Questionnaires and Grading Scales in Dry Eye Disease, and he defended this paper and the topic area during a two-hour oral examination.

 “It was an enormous amount of work to become an Academy Diplomate, but I learned a lot, made some friends along the way, and it was totally worth it,” Pucker said.

Earlier this year, Pucker received the AAO’s Irvin M. and Beatrice Borish Award, which recognizes one outstanding young scientist. He was also recently named a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society, and he was awarded the Peter-Able Prize, which is Germany’s highest optometric research award.