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In 2008, the Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society (OWNS) was created to achieve this goal. It does this by fostering the development of each individual eyecare professional and the profession as a whole through the dissemination of knowledge in both clinical and basic nutritional science and by supporting research that will advance eye care. This creates an atmosphere for eyecare professionals and vision scientists to work together for the common good of the profession.





In qualifying for and maintaining OWNS Fellowship, candidates are evaluated against the highest standards of professional competence. The letters, FOWNS (Fellow, Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society) after a professional’s name signify to colleagues and patients that rigorous qualifications for Fellowship have been met. A candidate has up to five years to successfully complete the process. Retroactive nutrition-related hours for the past three years can be applied toward the total education requirement. The Fellowship Committee works with the candidate to develop and review the materials required to demonstrate eligibility to sit for the oral examination. The process is designed to help the candidate develop as a professional and succeed in becoming a Fellow.

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Society Fellowship is an earned distinction that requires demonstration of professional competence in nutrition. Candidacy is a four-step process.

Application Form All requirements outlined in the application form must be completed. The requisite candidate fees must accompany the form. Once the application has been processed, the candidate will receive an acknowledgement letter by email that will include information on how to submit hourly education verification and written work.

Continuing Education Hours An hourly accumulation system gives candidates several options to meet the requirements of a total of 150 nutrition hours that are required to complete the education standard. We strongly recommend that a substantial proportion of these hours focus upon the principles and practice of ocular nutrition, as the oral examination will emphasize this area. The table below summarizes the combination of points that can be used to achieve the required number of hours.

Educational Event/Item Number of hours credit
Nutritional education courses** 1 hour per course hour 
On-line OWNS modules 1 hour per course hour *
Pre-graduate accredited nutrition degree 20 hours*
Post-graduate accredited nutrition certification 40 hours or enter individual courses if more credit  earned*
Published nutrition articles or posters- peer-reviewed 3 hours per article or poster*
Nutrition lecture presentations given** 3 hours per course hour presented*
Case Study or research paper* 15 hours*

*may not apply toward ACBN Diplomate or CNS requirements

**Courses and lectures must be COPE approved or sponsored by accredited college or university

Note:  Applicants must be prepared to submit proof of hours submitted.

The OWNS maintains several continuing education courses on our website. These courses are open to members and non-members alike, however members receive a discount on the cost of each course. To receive this discount, the member must be logged into the website and all attendees must pass the post-course test to receive COPE credit for the course. Contact OWNS via email if you are requiring a different form of education credit.

While taking these specific courses is not required for Fellowship status, we are hopeful that these will be valuable in launching the Fellowship process. Any accredited college sponsored course in nutrition is acceptable as credit toward the Fellowship requirements. All courses taken should be compliant with the American Clinical Board of nutrition diplomate educational training requirements and shall be through a college, university, institution, foundation, or agency that holds status with an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or holds a reciprocal agreement with that recognized agency. For more information -  http://www.acbn.org/

Written Material The deadline for submitting all required documentation for the written requirements of the admittance process occurs on August 1, approximately two months prior to the Society’s fall meeting. One case report is required to be submitted along with the application for fellowship. See the  "Case Report" guidelines and "Research Paper" guidelines.

Oral Examination The oral examination will be based on several criteria, including the case report and general nutritional scientific principles. The candidate will receive specific instructions as to how to prepare for this examination. Typically, it will be held on day of the Fall Educational Symposium at a location to be determined. Note the dates may change if availability at other conferences.


Each person earning an OWNS Fellowship is expected to:

  • Live up to the mission of the OWNS 
  • Attend the semi-annual meetings whenever possible 
  • Maintain their continuous membership in the OWNS during the Fellowship process 
  • Refrain from using the F-OWNS designation if membership is not current 
  • Maintenance of the Fellowship certification requires a minimum of 12 hours of nutrition CE every two years.


Founded in 1986 the ACBN is a professional certification organization acting in the public interest by establishing education, examination, experience, and ethics requirements for certification.

The ACBN received NCCA accreditation of its Diplomate (DACBN) program by submitting an application demonstrating the program’s compliance with NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). Since 1977, the NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.

Once the eyecare professionals have completed their 150 hours to attain Fellowship status in the OWNS, they have the option to continue their educational training to complete an additional 150 hours (for a total of 300 hours) to become a Diplomate in nutrition through the ACBN. This requirement also includes 3 case studies (the OWNS case study qualifies for one of those) and writing an article of publishable quality with at least 10 references. The ACBN accepts all professionals beyond the doctorate level who qualify, without discrimination, to sit for the nutrition examination. Professionals who successfully pass the two part examination are designated as Diplomates of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition (DACBN) and are certificants of this certifying agency.


Another option is certified nutrition specialist (CNS) credential requires advanced-degree education qualifications, successful completion of a rigorous examination and substantial nutrition experience. More information can be found CNS certification

Click to download the FOWNS accelerated application (available to those who qualify)