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25 Years of the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl

By Essilor News

June 23, 2016

Without question, one of the most anticipated events in Optometry’s Meeting every year is the Varilux® Optometry Student Bowl™ (OSB). This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event, which was created by Essilor’s Danne Ventura and Dr. Rod Tahran.

This game show-style competition pits 23 students against one another in a test of their optometric knowledge. Contestants buzz in and answer questions for points, and the student with the most points wins. Teams also compete for the most spirited and most creative awards. Each school picks a theme and student attendees wear t-shirts, hats, props, body paint and other accessories to show off their spirit. The school that wins the “Spirit Award” produces the OSB rules video for the upcoming year.

Danne Ventura, director of professional education for Essilor, and Dr. Janelle Routhier, senior director of customer development at Essilor, talk about their experiences with the OSB.

How and why was the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl created?

DV: Dr. Rod Tahran, Essilor’s VP Professional Relations, and I conceived it in 1991 and presented it to the executive director of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), who wholeheartedly embraced it. The first Varilux Optometry Super Bowl was held in January 1992 at the annual AOSA meeting. The AOSA merged with the American Optometry Association (AOA) meeting in 2003 and became Optometry's Meeting, and the Varilux Optometry Super Bowl moved to the new meeting. In 2009, the event was renamed the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl.  

We developed the event to engage the students and give them an avenue to have fun at the meeting that wasn't a "traditional" party. We also have a reception after the event each year to keep the fun going.

How are you personally involved in the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl?

DV:  I co-planned and executed the OSB in the early years with Dr. Tahran and for the last 15 years, I have directed all aspects of the event with our excellent team. The team includes Essilor staff, college faculty and deans, student leaders and the AOA, among others.

JR:  Before joining Essilor, I was a two-time contestant in the Optometry Student Bowl! I represented my school, Michigan College of Optometry, and never thought I would get the opportunity to actually work for the company that puts on the biggest event for optometry students in the eyecare industry. My role is to consult with my team about how we can evolve the OSB to make it better each year.

What is your favorite part about the Student Bowl?

DV: Definitely the students’ excitement and the opportunity to see them show off what they have learned. I’m also grateful for the people I have met and the lifelong relationships I have developed.

JR: My favorite part is when the students enter at the beginning of the event. Each school is called out by name and the contestants make a statement as they stand on the stage. It’s always so cool to see how the students try to outdo each other with the creativity of their grand entrances.

How does the Student Bowl impact the eyecare industry?

DV: Over the years, the event has become a highlight of student life. We have seen the student leaders we work with, as well as the contestants and winners of the OSB, become key opinion leaders, association leaders, industry leaders and educators.

JR: The Student Bowl brings optometry students, doctors, professors and industry together for an energy-filled, exhilarating event centered around education and knowledge. It gives students a great reason to attend Optometry’s Meeting and network with fellow students and doctors. Students also can participate in AOSA events and activities.

This year’s Varilux Optometry Student Bowl promises to be an event Optometry’s Meeting attendees won’t want to miss. While you’re there, be sure to visit Essilor in booth 329.