Date: June 6, 2019

Location: The NEW Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University, 4211 OH-44, Rootstown, OH 44272

Registration is now closed.

Time: 9:00 am Registration ~ 9:30 am Program ~ 3:30 pm Close 

For: Vision Researchers, clinicians, allied health, public health and rehabilitation professionals, patients, aging network professionals, social workers, students, bio-science funders and leaders from government and the bio-tech industry. 

The focus of this Aging Eye Summit is to promote understanding, early detection, and treatment of eye disease related to diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.

Presentations and Links

Scroll Down for Speaker Bios

10:00 am   Vision Problems Associated with Diabetes and Autoimmune Disorders
Joseph Coney, MD, Ophthalmologist

11:00 am   Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired
Jennifer Wells, M.Ed., CRC

11:15 am   Vision Impairment and Associated Co-Morbidities
Dean VanNasdale, OD, MPH, Associate Professor

1:15 pm     Medication Management and Innovations Roundtable 
Erin St. Denis, Occupational Therapist

2:15 pm     Food as Medicine: Protecting the Eyes
Sequoia Wellness Center
Emily Workman BS RDN LD

2:45 pm     Call to Action
Rafat R. Ansari, Ph.D., Fellow SPIE

Global Coalition on Aging Paper


Scroll Down for Speaker Bios

Aging Eye Summit: Our Bodies–Our Vision Program

9:00 am   Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:30 am   Welcome
Ursel J. McElroy, MPA, Director,
Ohio Department of Aging

9:45 am   Neurodegenerative Diseases and Aging Research
Samuel D. Crish, Ph.D., Director, Neurodegenerative Disease & Aging Research Focus Area,
Northeast Ohio Medical University

10:00 am  Keynote
Vision Problems Associated with Diabetes and Autoimmune Disorders
Joseph Coney, MD, Ophthalmologist, President of the Ohio Ophthalmological Society,
Retina Associates of Cleveland

11:00 am   Resource Moment-
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired

Jennifer Wells, M.Ed., CRC,
Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor

Sarah Kelly, Program Manager,
Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired

11:15 am   Vision Impairment and Associated Co-Morbidities
Dean VanNasdale, OD, MPH, Associate Professor,
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

11:30 am   Lunch and Exhibits          

12:45 pm   Patient Panel          

1:15 pm    Medication Management and Innovations Roundtable 

Kunal Amin, BSPS, Pharm., R.Ph., V.P. and Director of Clinical Services,
Pharmacy Innovations, LLC., Northeast Ohio Medical University

Hannah Cross, Pharm. D, Head Pharmacist,
Rootstown Community Pharmacy

Erin St. Denis, Occupational Therapist,
Cleveland Sight Center

2:15 pm   Food as Medicine: Protecting the Eyes
Sequoia Wellness Center
Emily Workman BS RDN LD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist,
Sequoia Wellness at NEOMED

2:45 pm   Call to Action
Rafat R. Ansari, Ph.D., Fellow SPIE
Vision Research Senior Scientist (Retired), NASA Glenn Research Center,
Cleveland, Ohio.
Former Professor of Biomedical Science & Engineering, University of Texas, Health Science Center, Houston, Texas.
Board Member, Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate
Co-Chair, Ohio's Aging Eye Public Private Partnership

3:00 pm   Close
Marcus J. Molea, AICP, Strategic Partnerships, 
Ohio Department of Aging - Elder Connections Division

3:30 pm   Optional NEOMED Tour
Sam Crish, PhD

Directions, Parking and Hotel

The NEW Center at NEOMED, 4211 SR 44, Rootstown, Ohio 44272



Ample free parking is available at NEOMED

Hotel Information:

Rooms have been reserved at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center,
215 S. Depeyster Street   Kent, OH 44240 for June 5, 2019 and will be held until May 5, 2019. Call 330-346-0100 or go to to reserve your room at our group rate of $109.00.

Our code for the Aging Eye Summit:  EYE19

Continuing Education Units (CEU's)

This program meets the requirements for 4.75 continuing education hours for Occupational Therapy

The Ohio Vision Professionals Board has approved 6.0 Optometric/6.0 Pharmacology Continuing Education Hours​

Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) has approved 4.0 Hours

4.75 hours of  ACVREP credit has been approved​

Continuing Education Units are being sought from a variety of professional boards. Please check back for other approved CEU’s.​

Contact Us:
Laura Schwartz 
e-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 614-464-2020 ext.112 or Toll free @ 800-301-2020 ext. 112
Mail: Aging Eye Summit: Our Bodies - Our Vision
c/o Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate
1500 W. Third Ave, Suite 200
Columbus, Ohio 43212

The Need

Goal:  To curb the growth of vision loss due to aging eye diseases in Ohio


  • Promote early detection and treatment of aging eye diseases through public and professional education, resource development and distribution and incorporation of disease preventative messages in existing health education programs.
  • Raise awareness among key stakeholders and decision-makers about the scope and impact of aging eye diseases in Ohio and develop collaborations to meet the increased demands for medical, public health, social service, rehabilitation, long-term care and government.
  • Foster vision research in Ohio and Ohio vision research collaborations that seek the causes of and cures for sight-robbing eye diseases i.e .glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract.
  • Build partnerships and collaborations among key stakeholders and decision-makers that will share the challenges of caring for the vision needs of Ohio’s aging population.
  • Promote the role of an integrated health care delivery team to deliver a patient-centered approach to the education, diagnosis, and treatment of vision disorders.

Planning Committee:

Rafat A. Ansari, PhD- NASA Senior Scientist (retired), Rachida Bouhenni. PhD-Akron Children’s Hospital,  Andrew Hartwick, OD, PhD and Jackie Davis, OD, MPH, -The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Heithem El-Hodiri ,PhD- The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,  Marcus J. Molea-Ohio Department of Aging, Christine Crish, PhD, Denise Inman, PhD, Kimberly Kennedy, and Sam Crish, PhD (chair)-NEOMED, Mary Jo McGuire, MS, OTR/L, Cherie A. Hyder, BS, PharmD, Alimera Science, and Darcy Downie, Sherry Williams, Stephanie Koscher, and Laura Schwartz -Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate.

Sponsors: Aging Eye Summit: Our Bodies-Our Vision is presented by: Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership, The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness and is hosted by Northeast Ohio Medical University





To Register:

Speaker Bios

Kunal Amin, BSPS, Pharm., R.Ph.,
V.P. and Director of Clinical Services,
Pharmacy Innovations, LLC.,
Northeast Ohio Medical University

KUNAL AMIN received a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Toledo, College of Pharmacy in 2009. He is a registered Pharmacist in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. Kunal has been with NEOMED since 2017.


Rafat R. Ansari, PhD, Fellow SPIE
Senior Scientist (retired)      

Vision Research and Human Health Diagnostics Laboratory
NASA John H. Glenn Research Center

RAFAT ANSARI, Senior Scientist, NASA, John H. Glenn Research Center (retired), is known for achievements in biomedical optics, optoelectronic applied science, and experimental ophthalmology. Since 1988, Dr. Ansari has worked at NASA to advance light scattering technology for fluids and materials science microgravity experiments onboard the space-shuttle orbiter and space station, and has applied these breakthroughs to biomedical applications here on Earth. In efforts to monitor the health of astronauts in long-duration missions, he has developed methods to diagnose diseases non-invasively and quantitatively before clinical symptoms appear, using light in various forms to detect ocular and systemic abnormalities.  He has over 100 publications and three patents to his credit. Currently he is serving on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biomedical Optics, Current Analytical Chemistry, Journal of Health Information Science and Systems and on the executive boards of Prevent Blindness Ohio and the Society for Brain Mapping & Therapeutics. He is also a licensed pilot. His critical work has earned him many honors and awards; he is a recipient of the Public Service Medal, two NASA’s Space Act Awards, the Abe Silverstein Medal, The University of Texas STARS (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) Award, Service to America Medals finalist for Science and Environment, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, the HHS Innovates Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and honors from both the Ohio State Senate and the U.S. Senate.


Joseph M. Coney, MD
Ophthalmologist, Retina Associates of Cleveland and President, Ohio Ophthalmological Society

JOSEPH CONEY received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He received his MD degree from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.  He completed his ophthalmology residency at Case Western Reserve University and a medical retina fellowship in diabetic retinopathy at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.  Dr. Coney also finished a two-year vitreoretinal surgical fellowship at the Vitreoretinal Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.  He has been a clinical investigator in over 65 research studies of treatments for diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and other vitreoretinal diseases. Dr. Coney is president of the Ohio Ophthalmological Society, and serves as an executive board member in the Ophthalmology Section of the National Medical Association. He has been recognized as among the top ophthalmologists in the nation by Castle Connolly, and has been featured as a Top Doctor in Cleveland Magazine every year since 2015.  He is a Vitals Patient's Choice, On-Time Doctor, and Compassionate Doctor award winner, and was selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Doctors in America. Dr. Coney's primary interests include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, traumatic eye injuries and complex retinal surgeries.  He speaks locally, nationally, and internationally about retinal vascular diseases.


Samuel D. Crish, PhD
Director Neurodegenerative Diseases & Aging Research
Northeast Ohio Medical University

SAM CRISH’S research interests focus on understanding the pre and early degenerative processes in glaucoma and other blinding disorders.  This work is done with the goal of developing better therapies that will slow, stop, or potentially reverse the progression of visions loss.  Dr. Crish received his B.S. in biology from Baldwin-Wallace College and doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where along with his wife, Dr. Christine Crish, he studied the nervous systems of naturally blind animals. After a postdoctoral fellowship extending this work at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee he made the jump from naturally blind animals to pathologically blind animals; taking a postdoctoral fellowship and staff scientist position at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center studying glaucoma. He joined NEOMED.

Hannah Cross, Pharm. D,
Head Pharmacist
Rootstown Community Pharmacy

HANNAH CROSS Received her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) from Northeast Ohio Medical University in 2013 and is currently the managing pharmacist at Rootstown Community Pharmacy.

Ursel J. McElroy, MPA
Director, Ohio Department of Aging

URSEL J. McElROY was appointed by Governor Mike DeWine in January 2019 to direct the Ohio Department of Aging and administer the State Plan on Aging. Ursel represents the interests of older adults in Ohio’s executive branch of government and oversees the coordination of long-term services and supports funded by the federal Older Americans Act, Medicaid, and other federal, state, and local dollars. Ursel has more than 25 years of experience in local and state government, holding key positions at the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. She served as deputy director of education and policy at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for a decade, during which she managed education, policies, programs, and initiatives impacting victims of crime, such as domestic violence, sexual violence, victim notification, and crimes committed against children, older adults, and people with disabilities. She chaired the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Commission and managed the establishment of the Ohio Elder Justice Initiative.

Prior to joining the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Ursel was chair of the Ohio Coalition for Adult Protective Services, a supervisor and investigator for adult protective services, and a case manager for a senior services levy program. She is a leader and visionary in the field of aging, hosting and planning Ohio’s first Summit on Aging, the state’s first Elder Abuse Research Symposium, and the Elder Financial Exploitation Symposium. She has presented at prominent events such as the White House Conference on Aging, and is the recipient of the Ohio Coalition for Adult Protective Services Outstanding Service Award. Ursel’s deep sensitivity and concern for older Ohioans and their caregivers is clear. She is committed to upholding the fundamental principle that older adults can live where they choose, with the people they choose, and with the ability to participate fully in their communities. She received a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in public administration from The Ohio State University.


Sarah Kelly
Program Manager
Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

SARAH KELLY has extensive experience in diversified social services roles with the main focus on client services, rehabilitation programming, and case management.  She has worked for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities since 2012. Sarah is an Ohio chapter, Board Member for the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.


Marcus J. Molea, AICP, MHA
Strategic Partnerships
Ohio Department of Aging


MARC MOLEA has worked for the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) for 24 years.  He currently serves in Strategic Partnerships where he supports the development of a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated system of elder friendly, person-centered programs and services.
Mr. Molea received Masters Degrees in City and Regional Planning and Health Administration from The Ohio State University and Ohio University respectively. Prior to coming to ODA, he held various positions in the fields of planning and community development.
Mr. Molea has supported and served in leadership positions for Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership since its inception in 2003.  He serves as an Honorary Member of the Prevent Blindness Board of Directors and is Ohio’s lead for the CDC/NACDD Vision and Eye Health Initiative. Mr. Molea was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. He is the recipient of the 2013 Ohio Association of Senior Centers' Muriel Bertsch Award and 2017 Employment for Seniors Charles B. Jenkins Legacy Award.


Dean VanNasdale, Jr, OD, PhD
Assistant Professor
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

DEAN VAN NASDALE, received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University in 2003 and completed a cornea and contact lens residency at Indiana University in 2004. Dr. VanNasdale received a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research and a PhD degree in Vision Science from Indiana University in 2011.
Dr. VanNasdale’s primary research focus is advanced retinal imaging, with an emphasis on normal aging changes and pathological changes associated with diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. By emphasizing specific light/tissue interactions, changes to the normally well-ordered retinal structure can be highlighted. The goal of his research is to distinguish normal aging changes from those related to sight threatening pathology and to detect retinal damage earlier in the disease process using both commercially available and laboratory-based instruments.

Dr. VanNasdale teaches Public Health and Environmental Vision to third year optometry students and is an instructor in the Contact Lens Services at the College of Optometry.


Jennifer L. Wells, M.Ed., CRC
Vocational  Rehabilitation Supervisor
Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

JENNIFER WELLS has worked in the field of rehabilitation for the past 28 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. She has experience as a job coach, job developer, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and currently works as the Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor at Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities covering Portage, Summit, and Medina counties. Jennifer has been employed with OOD for the past 18 years.


Emily Workman, BS, RDN, LD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Sequoia Wellness at NEOMED

Emily Workman is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who received her degree from Brigham Young University in Nutrition and Dietetics in Provo, Utah.  She continued her training to become a Registered Dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio.  She continues her education through various lectures and studying the latest research and advances in food, nutrition and nutrition therapy.  She is experienced in working with a wide variety of nutritional needs, including weight loss, disordered eating, diabetes and kidney disease.  She also has seen clients in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, residential treatment, outpatient medical offices, and private settings. Emily has a passion for providing individualized nutrition counseling that accomplishes health goals and fits into each person’s unique circumstances.  She also is experienced in working with the psychology of eating and uses that to help clients overcome barriers to change and experience lasting success.  She loves working with a diverse population of clients and enjoys being part of their exciting journey to achieve their health and wellness goals.