Newswise — San Francisco, Calif. – April 29, 2021 – David W. Parke II, MD, has announced to the Board of Trustees that he is stepping down as Academy CEO, stating that leadership transitions are healthy and important and that the organization is in a strong position with robust programs, strong governance and financial integrity.

“Under his leadership, the Academy has enjoyed tremendous success and weathered daunting challenges, growing stronger every year of his tenure,” said Tamara R. Fountain, MD, president of the Academy. “From the founding of the IRIS Registry and the creation of the new public museum to leading the Academy and its members through COVID-19, he has embodied and vastly expanded the strengths of the organization.”

Dr. Parke’s north star was serving members with the resources they need today and into the future. Highlights of his tenure include:

  • Developing the Academy’s IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight), the nation's first—and now the world’s largest--comprehensive eye disease registry. It has amassed to date data on nearly 60 million patients and 350 million patient visits. The IRIS Registry is transforming the profession by providing insights on eye disease and empowering ophthalmologists to effectively improve their practices and their patients’ lives.
  • Guiding members through COVID-19 by providing a mix of resources for physicians and advocacy for the tools their practices required to survive, ensuring patient access and care.
  • Launching the Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring program to increase diversity in ophthalmology by helping students underrepresented in medicine learn about ophthalmology and become more competitive ophthalmology residency applicants.
  • Expanding the Academy’s family of journals to include Ophthalmology Retina, Ophthalmology Glaucoma, and Ophthalmology Science, its first open access journal.
  • Collaborating with the ASCRS (American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery) to develop Eyecelerator™, a series of conferences and programs that accelerate innovation in ophthalmology.
  • Rebranding the Academy, updating and modernizing our logo and tagline to speak to the importance and value to patients and communities of the care provided by our members.
  • Engaging the public through EyeSmart to provide the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries.

“Dr. Parke's successor will inherit a fiscally-sound, well-staffed and influential member organization,” Dr. Fountain said. “I am confident the new CEO will put his or her own brand on the office and advance the mission of the Academy – to preserve sight and empower lives.”

In the coming weeks, Dr. Fountain will convene a committee and launch the search, with the expectation of installing a new CEO before the end of the year. The committee is looking for an ophthalmologist member who will preserve the culture of the organization while charting new paths forward for the profession. 

“Helping to lead the American Academy of Ophthalmology and serve my colleagues and their patients has been, and always will be, the highlight of my professional career,” noted Dr. Parke. “It is an honor to work with the dedicated professionals who staff the Academy and who volunteer in its initiatives. I couldn’t be prouder of the work they do and its impact. I pledge to remain active in whatever way best serves the organization and my beloved profession.”

Prior to becoming Academy CEO, Dr. Parke served for 17 years as president and chief executive officer of the Dean McGee Eye Institute and Edward L. Gaylord Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

Dr. Parke has held leadership positions on multiple professional boards including as President of the Academy and as President of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. He has authored or co-authored over 100 articles, served on the editorial board of two ophthalmic journals and has received numerous biomedical research grants and professional honors. Dr. Parke has lectured widely on topics in retinal diseases and surgery, academic professional development, medical liability insurance and risk management, healthcare policy, and medical organizational leadership and management.


About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit


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