BARBWIRE BOB – 3-30-23

I joined millions of travelers this past week,  coinciding with “spring break” to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with some doctor friends.  The mission was to attend the biennial XXXV/ PAAO Congress and award ceremony.  This is the (Pan American Association of Ophthalmologists.) Over 6,000 ophthalmologists  attended the convention from Latin American countries, United States, and Canada.


I was invited to attend by Dr. Bronwyn Bateman who pioneered the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute at Fitzsimmons, starting in the 1990s.  I’ve been a Lions club member for years and spent a decade working with members of the Denver Lions Club and Colorado and Wyoming Lions, formalizing this eye institute from the beginning, raising funds and building the facility,  and then witnessing the explosive expansion with the  University of Colorado vast Aurora medical  Anschutz Campus.   The eye institute, now called the Sue Anschutz Eye Center, with over 100 eye specialists and the Lion Emblem proudly on the campus building.  Helen Keller called the Lions “Her knights of the blind,” and primary mission of Lions Clubs worldwide.  Dr. Bateman returned to UCLA, where she remains one of most honored and revered ophthalmologist and gene research doctors in the world.  During her tenure in Denver, she served as the president of PAAO, making many friends and colleagues in Latin America and worldwide.

I have been invited to the last three PAAO  Congresses and received a “Public Service” honorary award from The University of Colorado at ceremonies in 2001.  

Dr. Bronwyn Bateman and Angela Fernandez present the first PAAO award in honor of Dr. Bateman’s distinguished career to honor Woman’s Leadership in Ophthalmology and Vision Research. The award was presented posthumously to Dr. Alice R. McPherson

This year was very special with Dr. Bateman presenting a PAAO Award, named in her honor,  for Women’s Leadership in Ophthalmology and Vision Research to highlight the significant accomplishments of a female ophthalmologist in areas of leadership  in their profession.  The award will be conferred on alternate years in conjunction with the biennial PAAO Congress as part of the opening ceremony and award presentations.

The Award was established by  PAAO to commemorate Dr. Bronwyn Bateman’s passion and dedication for education, clinical care, and scientific research , and to commemorate her expertise in leading efforts in local, national, and international  ophthalmology.  Dr. Bateman was the first woman president of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology and also served as PAAO as president.

Dr. Bateman was the first woman departmental chair at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, raising the funding to build the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute. 

Over 6000 Ophthalogists attended the biannual PAAO Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina to attend seminars, exhibit booths and award ceremonies. The next Congress will be held in 2025 in Bogota, Columbia.

The first award was presented by Dr. Bateman and  Angela Fernandez at the Congress to Dr. Alice R. McPherson of Baylor University, a Houston resident, posthumously at this 35th annual PAAO Congress.  Dr. McPherson passed away several months prior to receiving her award. She was the first woman president of PAAO and was an accomplished educator, scholar, leader, and pioneer dedicated to the study and treatment of retina diseases. 

An additional guest traveling companion was Dr. Irene Maumenee,  a world-renowned Ophthalmologist and gene certified scientist who does research and teaches at Columbia University in New York City.  An award was also presented in honor of Irene’s late husband, Dr. A. Edward Maumenee, a Distinguished Service Medal to Dr. Rafael Sanchez Fontan.

It was an honor to attend the Congress to learn more about blindness and clinical care, research, and treatment of vision challenges.

Helen Keller would be very proud of these doctors and their mission to preserve, treat, and find genetic cures for the 36 million blind people around the world.