Article Date: 8/1/2013

O.D. Scene

O.D. Scene


In the 1960s they were Las Vegas’ major draw, prompting thousands to sleep in hotel lobbies and in their cars for a chance to buy tickets to their shows. In addition, the casinos loved them because they regularly attracted a bevy of high rollers. And, let’s not forget the 20 movies they made. They were the “Rat Pack,” otherwise known as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter Lawford.

Optometry has its own “Rat pack.” These guys seem to lecture at every optometry meeting — also attracting large audiences, appear in most optometric journals, are involved in several research projects and serve on many industry advisory boards. they are the ones seen in the restaurants and bars nearest the trade shows until the wee hours of the night. (What we talk about, I’ll never tell.) They are Kirk, Paul, Milt, Eric, Jim and others. Through the next several issues, I’m going to highlight the “Rat Pack: Eye Division.” This month, I speak with members Ian “Ben” Gaddie, O.D., F.A.A.O., and Marc Bloomenstein, O.D., F.A.A.O.

“I think my greatest ambition in life is to pass on to others what I know,” Frank Sinatra once said. Through their dedication to the profession, the “Rat Pack: Eye Division,” no doubt, share this ambition.

Rounding out these key opinion leaders is Linda Kasser, dean of Salus University. She completes the series on the leaders of schools of optometry. Enjoy!


O.D. Scene creator, writer and editor Jack Schaeffer, O.D.

Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…

Ian “Ben” Gaddie, O.D., F.A.A.O., Louisville, Ky., and Marc Bloomenstein, O.D., F.A.A.O., Scottsdale, Ariz.


Dr. Gaddie (left), Eric Schmidt, O.D., (center) and Scot Morris, O.D., in Napa Valley taking an extended stay after a meeting.

Q: Can you describe your practice?

BG: My father, Bruce Gaddie, O.D., started a two-location practice in 1968. Today, we have five locations… We have a strong specialty contact lens practice and a high volume of medical eye care. We serve the suburban population, but also very rural and underserved patients.

MB: I work in an ophthalmology practice with three other O.D.s. We primarily focus on anterior segment pathology and some comprehensive eye evaluations. The practice has a reputation as a LASIK center, and, thus, we treat all cataracts as refractive surgeries with an emphasis on vision rehabilitation without glasses.

Q: What are your responsibilities as a key optometric leader (KOL)?

BG: … I have represented optometry in front of state legislatures, on televised debates and in everyday conversations with patients and strangers alike…

MB: You have to have an opinion, and it should be based on clinical experience. KOL also implies you are open-minded to new and changing paradigms…

Q: What do the other KOL members mean to you?

BG: … Due to the demands of travel, lectures and other meetings, these KOLs have become intertwined in my life, and I consider them some of my closest friends.

MB: Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” This holds true here. Just kidding. These kids care about making our profession elite and holding us all responsible. I am honored to be friends with and a member of this group.

Q: What drives you to get on the road to lecture, and how many lectures do you give a year?

BG: My love of teaching and motivating people. I present at approximately 75 to 100 events every year, sometimes one lecture at each locale, and 10 lectures at a single event.

MB: Arizona is HOT. Need I say more? Actually, I love our profession and want to see us all practice to the highest level. I think I give close to 125 lectures a year.

Q: What advice would you give to a new graduate?

BG: Do a residency, either in contact lens or ocular disease. Specialty contact lenses represent one of the largest profitable segments in our industry today, not to mention how dramatically they can improve vision in someone who has corneal disease or postoperative mishaps. Ocular disease residency prepares new doctors to confidently treat the massive influx of eye health conditions expected in the next 10 years.

MB: Treat every single patient as a medical exam. Period.


Marc and his family in Maui, Hawaii. (From left) Ciara, Zach, Wilson, Jill, Dr. Bloomenstein and Maxwell.

Q: What is your prediction for the future of our profession?

BG: … I think the last decade has solidified our place as the gatekeeper of eye care, and we need to make sure optometry remains in charge of the eyecare delivery system. That really is our future, and one that our adversaries would like to re-write.

MB: [I see us] moving away from the refraction and into the slit-lamp and bio. The future is bright, so get out your polarized UV protectors.

Q: Who are the members of your family, and what do you do for fun?

BG: My wife, Angie, and my two beautiful daughters, Sloane (10) and Georgia (8). My wife and I have fun doing just about everything. Our daughters are into dance team, swim team, field hockey, basketball, golf, tennis and diving. Personally, I like to travel with my family, play golf and rummage around our small farm.

MB: I live with my girlfriend, Jill, and we have four kids: Zach (16), Ciara (15), Wilson (14), and Maxwell (13). No one wants to hang out with me. Not even my mom, and she lives roughly 30 minutes from me. Personally, I enjoy some light reading, TV, running and hiking.


The Gaddie family

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

BG: Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Since the first Seinfeld episode, his comedic brilliance has fueled many soul-saving fits of laughter in my world.

MB: Abraham Lincoln. In the face of some of the most troubling times, he appeared capable of breaking down complex thoughts into digestible and commonsense explanations.

Q: What is the last book you read?

BG: George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s autobiographies. It’s amazing to see some of the behind-the-scenes details and tough decisions they faced daily.

MB: I just finished The Kill Room, a murder-mystery novel, by Jeffery Deaver.

Q: What kind of music do you have on your iPod or iPad?

BG: Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, Phish, Miles Davis, John Scofield, Funky Meters, J.J. Cale, My Morning Jacket, Ween and The Velvet Underground.

MB: I have a lot of 80s (The Cure, Morrissey, Oingo Boingo), and some current stuff: Death Cab for Cutie, Bruno Mars, The Script, The Airborne Toxic Event, etc.


“The name is Bloomenstein. Marc Bloomenstein. I take my lissamine green shaken, not stirred.”

Q: Any last thoughts about the profession of optometry?

BG: I had two great figures besides my dad who shaped the optometrist I am today. Larry Alexander, O.D., F.A.A.O., is one of the most motivating and talented educators this profession has ever known. He helped me realize my potential clinically. Darlene Eakin, executive director of the Kentucky Optometric Association, taught me the value of doing my homework on every issue and the true meaning of leadership. We need more mentors in this great profession.

MB: I was viewing the rapidly changing landscape of Alaska on a recent lecture experience, and I thought, our profession is on that same tectonic movement.

Key Opinion Leader

Linda Casser, O.D., F.A.A.O., dean Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University

Q: What is a distinguishing characteristic of your institution?

A: Thanks to the leadership of many and the dedicated involvement of our talented faculty members — many of whom have spent their optometric careers here at PCO — along with the wonderful patients who entrust their care to us in The Eye Institute clinical network, the clinical education PCO affords is often what draws student applicants. Our curriculum, which integrates basic science and its clinical applications, is also outstanding.


Dr. Casser traveling the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Q: What major research and/or capital project is shaping the future of optometry and your institution?

A: In April 2009, Salus University launched a $11.2 million renovation of The Eye Institute, which is PCO’s primary clinical facility. The renovation was completed in December 2011. … In addition, as a small health sciences campus with multiple disciplines represented, Salus University has initiated initiatives to maximize its potential for interprofessional education and clinical care.

Q: What differences do you see in the optometry applicants today?

A: I find that applicants are much more familiar with the profession of optometry than I have seen in the past. This is often thanks to doctors of optometry who have served as excellent mentors. Applicants have typically had employment experience in an optometric and/or ophthalmological practice. In addition, they have often served in substantive volunteer roles in the healthcare arena. Demographically, the applicant pool is becoming increasingly diverse.

Q: What challenges are facing new graduates today?

A: Overarchingly, from my perspective, the student debt load is a critical factor facing new graduates today. In addition, their short- and long-term decisions about practice opportunities, balancing family commitments and careers, etc., are ongoing challenges that also present exciting opportunities.

Q: According to ASCO, almost 65% of the student body in optometry school is female. Why do you think women now make up most of the student body, and what is your advice for this powerful demographic post-graduation?

A: Through the course of my 35 years in the profession, it has been very interesting to watch first-hand this important demographic shift… My advice to women students in optometry: Don’t take the opportunity lightly, and have the confidence to be fully engaged at the highest clinical and professional levels. It may not be easy at times, but the personal fulfillment and professional opportunities are decidedly worth it. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of quality mentors and effective networking.

Q: Where have you seen change through the last five years in the field of optometry?

A: Expanded access to and the implementation of new technologies has brought major changes, both in the delivery of patient care services and in the associated practice management functions.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: I enjoy travel, both domestic and international, as well as visits with family members and friends.

Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

A: I would love to have dinner again with my father, Donald G. Casser. He was a chemical engineer and patent attorney who, very regrettably, passed away unexpectedly and prematurely 21 years ago. It would be great to hear his perspectives and guidance on current events, life and answers to questions posed by yours truly.

Q: What kind of music do you have on your iPod or iPad?

A: My most recent download purchase is Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel. Reading about her approach and perspectives was another good reminder of the importance of priority setting in our lives — spending our time and energies on what matters most in the world and in our relationships.

Q: What is your prediction for the future of the optometric profession?

A: I predict that the members of the optometric profession will continue dedicated efforts to educate other members of the healthcare arena about who we are and what we do, ensure our full participation and collaboration in emerging healthcare models, actively explore effective and efficient curricular models in optometric education and embrace appropriate scope-of-practice opportunities.


Dr. Casser with PCO student leaders and Alcon Representatives - 2013 Celebration of Leadership Dinner.

Travel, Food & Wine

A Whale of a Good Time
Seafood and sightseeing in Nantucket, Mass.


Kirk L. Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O., Morrow, Ga.

Nantucket Island, Mass. has always been associated with wealthy summer residences, late night parties and fancy restaurants. My wife and I, joined by another couple, decided to see this ourselves.

An elephant and a lighthouse

We stayed at the White Elephant Hotel, which was luxurious and provided a beautiful view of the Nantucket Harbor. After unpacking and getting settled into our suite, we set out for the Brant Point Lighthouse, which is no more than a half-mile walk from the Hotel. It has been guiding sailors in one form or another since 1746. The homes along the way were spectacular.

That evening we ate in the Hotel’s restaurant, the Brant Point Grill. My wife, Judi, had her first lobster of the trip (when in Rome I always say), and the rest of us feasted on the local fish.

Seafaring culture

The following day, we visited the Nantucket Whaling Museum. In addition to a compelling 45-minute presentation of the Island and its history in whaling, the museum contains a 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale, a giant Fresnel lens once used in the Sankaty Head Lighthouse, also on Nantucket, and a magnificent collection of scrimshaw carvings and lightship baskets.

After lunch at a local eatery, we toured the shops in the downtown area and enjoyed the local sights. For dinner we went to The Pearl restaurant, which might just be one of the best I have ever eaten at (and that is saying a lot). I started with the fluke sashimi with tamarind sauce and a green mango Thai chile infusion. Next, I ate a small plate, 60-second steak with foie gras and truffle jus. For my main entrée, I selected the Atlantic halibut rice bowl in a Thai coconut green curry sauce. Others at the table enjoyed the signature dish: the wok-fried lobster.

A day at the beach

On Saturday, we rented an open-air jeep for the day and went to the Beach at Great Point to capture photos of its beautiful lighthouse. Next, we drove to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, which requires a $35 pass. We deflated the Jeep’s tires to 15lbs. each (less is better) to drive on the Refuge’s soft sand beach. The ride was exhilarating, as we saw several gray seals swimming and seagulls nesting with their young.

For lunch, we ate at the Chanticleer, where we enjoyed lobster rolls with a bottle of crisp Vouvray wine on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. That afternoon we enjoyed leisure time in the hotel and had our final meal of the trip at Oran Mor Bistro & Bar. I started with the roasted cauliflower soup, and Judi enjoyed the Hudson Valley foie gras torchon and duck sausage. For my main course, I had the roasted lamb tenderloin and sausage, and Judi and the couple we travelled with enjoyed the sautéed day boat sea scallops and the sautéed Point Judith fluke. We washed this memorable meal down with a bottle of Archery Summit Pinot Noir Premier Cuvee 2009, from Oregon. It was perfect with the lamb and the seafood dishes. All in all a fantastic trip.


Brant Point Lighthouse has been a fixture of Nantucket since 1746.

Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: August 2013, page(s): 38 - 41