My dream is to foster a community of charity and collaboration among eye care professionals which raises patient care and also the profession.Connect with me on LinkedIn
Y. Ali Khan, a first-generation immigrant, passionate Canadian, experienced educator and established Ontario optician was approached by many to support the professions through continuing education. In September 1994, the first live seminar was offered under the banner of The Khan Group Inc. In conjunction with the outstanding support of Dr. Barbara Caffery and Dr. Marvin Cooper, the lectures were meticulously selected and presented by stalwarts in optometry and ophthalmology.
The Khan Group was eventually reimagined as the Academy of Ophthalmic Education (AOE), where a founding principal of became the collaboration of ophthalmology, optometry and opticianry to not only uplift alleye care professionals but facilitate better vision care for patients.
The success of the education did not go unnoticed by industry vendors and pharma companies. It wasn’t long before the industry wanted to be a part of the CE conferences. While protecting the integrity of the courses, it became obvious that AOE would need to find a way for eye care professionals to interact with industry vendors. This led the way to thecreation of “Optifair Canada”, an eye care industry trade show that runs inparallel to the optometry and opticianry CE tracks. Boot camps were also offered for optometric assistants and ancillary staff for hands on training indispensing glasses and contact lenses.
The AOE conference and Optifair Canada were offered twice a year and until COVID-19 arrived, was the hallmark of AOE’s success. The largest conference took place in October of 2005, where Optifiair Canada hosted 120 sold out booths. More than 1200 optometrists and opticians descended upon the Toronto Congress Center.
Knowing that success without charity is not success, Mr. Ali Khan helped organize a major charity fundraiser called “The Eye Ball”. Nearly $100,000 was raised for ORBIS, the international organization which offers tertiary eye care all over the world through their flying eye hospital.
The event drew more than 500 guests, formally dressed in ‘black tie’, to show solidarity as eye care professionals, dedicated to eradicating preventable blindness around the world. Special guests and speakers included Hon. Tony Clement, the National Minister of Health and Mrs Margaret Trudeau.
The event caught the attention of the national media, including a special report by Hello Magazine. This was the beginning of a culture of ‘giving back’ where in 2006, AOE would help form the Canadian Society of Eye Health Practitioners, or CSehp, our not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting eye care charities, educating the general public, sourcing insurance for ECPs, supporting students through free education and fundraising for students at risk.
Lawmakers noticed that by collaborative learning and training, issues of scope overlap were leading towards resolution. AOE and CSehp’s recommendation in strong support of TPA became part of the final recommendation document of HPRAC (Responseto the Submissions Made by Stakeholders to HPRAC).
In the years to come, CSehp in partnership with AOE would support nurmerous charities and initiaties through creative fundraisers, events, dances, online events and advocating for industry support.
From a family of Opticians, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, Mr. Ali Khan (CEO and founder of AOE), graduated in the first cohort of the Optician course at Ryerson University and was hired by Ryerson to upgrade and re-write the optician courses to higher standards. For over 50 years, he has dedicated his life to the elevation of education for all eye health learners. For years, Mr. Khan and the AOE team have been fundraising and creating innovative ways to bring high caliber education to students at no charge. Learn more about student support here.
For years this involved live seminars and socials. Until something happened...
With the pandemic expanding, lockdowns made live events impossible which threatened AOE's education models as well as CSehp's ability to raise funds.
As many were forced close their businesses, Mr. Khan saw this is a calling to support the industry and immediately went to work. In the early days of the pandemic, CSehp and AOE become one of the first to source custom PPE for Optometrists and Opticians. Large scale webinars of over 1700 attendees were run at no charge to help struggling ECPs reach their required CE during lockdown. Universities and College's struggled with providing online learning and through CSehp's student program, completely free video on-demand courses were offered in partnership with nine accredited US and Canadian post-secondary institutes.
When the news that some students in Opticianry were struggling financially, webinar fundraisers were run to support them as well as adding an annual financial award entitled "The Y. Ali Khan Award".
We can all make a difference in the lives of others. If you are a teacher or educator, please visit our Teachers & Educator section. If you are a parent, whether your child struggles or you want the very best for them, please visit our Parents & Children section. Or if you just want to learn more about surgery, conditions like glaucoma or just curious, visit our General Eye Care area.
If you are an eye care professional in Canada, please consider a Basic Membership. It's absolutely free and allows you to connect with us for future events and initiatives. Plus, you get some pretty decent discounts on home and auto insurance.
Thank you to everyone for making CSehp what it is today.