by Satina Richardson

Will Mann, a first year optometry student at UAB, plans to be an advocate for his profession when he becomes a practicing optometrist. He took his first step towards this goal by becoming an American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) trustee-elect.

The southwestern Virginia native wants to further develop his leadership skills and keep his peers well-educated on the current topics of legislation by being involved with the AOSA. His long-term goal is to influence optometrists’ scope of practice in his home state and on a national level with the American Optometric Association. 

“Without organized representation and good leadership for optometry, our scope of practice laws would never get modernized or stay up to date with new technology,” he said.

Mann is in the class of 2025. Both of his parents are optometrists who graduated from the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) in 1982 and 1983.

“When they first graduated from UABSO and moved back to their home state of Virginia, they were not allowed to treat even simple common bacterial conjunctivitis with any antibiotics. State laws did not permit them to prescribe any therapeutics at all, despite being trained at in optometry school and having full knowledge of how to treat their patients with therapeutic drugs.” 

He added that there is a similar situation now. Students at the School are being trained to perform laser procedures and injections, but these procedures are not permitted in many states. 

“To me, this is such an exciting time to be involved and advocating in legislation, as many states are beginning to vote on lasers and injections for the first time,” Mann said. “The advancing technology that allows optometrists to better treat our patients will not be allowed to be used unless we have diligent and continuous legislative representation. Optometric technology is rapidly advancing, which is part of the reason I chose optometry.”

An OD/MBA student, Mann is a member of the Private Practice Club, Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, and the National Optometric Student Association.