O.D. Scene


Hello Colleagues:

This month’s “O.D. Scene” includes power couple Key Opinion Leaders Kelly Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. and Jason Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., Key Industry Leader Richard Wallingford, O.D., epicurean Kirk Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O., and Jenn Falik is back to put a “spring” in your step, ladies.

Kelly is a Foundation for Education and Research in Vision (FERV) professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry, where she’s also director of the Ocular Surface Institute. In addition, Dr. Nichols is on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation and a member of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS) steering committee for contact lens discomfort. Further, she chaired The International Workshop on Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (see and is on the governing board for The Ocular Surface Society of Optometry and the TFOS.

Jason, Kelly’s husband, is the Kevin McDaid Vision Source professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. His bailiwick: contact lenses, the cornea and dry eye disease. In addition, he’s received National Eye Institute research funding to study contact lens-related dry eye and meibomian gland disease, and he’s chair of TFOS’ Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. Further, he’s currently editor-in-chief of Contact Lens Spectrum (a sister publication of OM), and the associated weekly e-mail newsletter Contact Lenses Today.

Dr. Wallingford is a graduate of the New England College of Optometry and past president of the American Optometric Association. Since 2008, he has served as the director of professional affairs at Vistakon.

The more interviews I do, the more I realize how lucky we are to be a part of this optometric community and family. (Please visit to learn more about the family.)


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

Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…

Kelly Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., F.A.A.O. and Jason Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., F.A.A.O.

Q: Where do you practice, and can you describe it and your typical day?

KN & JN: We both practice, teach and have a research program at the University of Houston College of Optometry. In addition, we direct The Ocular Surface Institute, a translational research center we founded at UH. We like to say that Jason’s area is contact lenses and mine is dry eye, but the truth is that the two areas blend frequently. Both of us are attending doctors in clinic — myself in the Dry Eye Center and Jason in the Specialty Contact Lens Clinic.

Q: What is it like being an eyecare couple?

JN: People think we’re crazy when we tell them that our offices are right next to each other, and we obviously spend a lot of time together at work. We hear “I could never do that,” and “what do you talk about at home?” all the time.

KN: We are partners, and while our styles are different at work, our strengths and weakness are very complimentary. And, we don’t drive to work together. That helps in keeping us married.

Q: What has changed in the contact lens and ocular surface disease markets?

JN: … [With regard to contact lenses], we’re making baby steps at solving the discomfort dilemma, and some would say we’re making leaps and bounds in terms of myopia control with contact lenses.

KN: For the first time in years, there is exciting diagnostic technology for ocular surface disease …

Q: What is the latest research in which you are involved?

KN: Since moving to the University of Houston in 2011, we have started The Ocular Surface Institute, which is a translational research institute focused on bench to bedside research. Our interests continue to be ocular surface disease, meibomian gland dysfunction, dry eye, inflammation and contact lenses. We have a number of clinical and FDA trials for dry eye pharmaceuticals ongoing, as well as basic science projects related to inflammation and pathophysiology of meibomian gland dysfunction using meibomian cells in culture and dry eye animal models.

JN: We’re always on the lookout for fulltime clinicians who have an interest in clinical research to join our research team. Interested applicants can send a CV to us at us.

Q: What has being a “KOL” and the relationships with other colleagues meant to you?

KN & JN: We have both been so fortunate through the years to have colleagues from all over the world through research and lecturing. These are lasting friendships. If either of us needed something, anywhere in the world, there would be a colleague to help. We are a small community and always can share funny stories about lecture mishaps or our families or the difficulties of balancing our careers. We celebrate each other’s successes, so the time we have put into these relationships is especially rewarding.


Drs. Kelly and Jason Nichols on a trip to Amsterdam.

Q: Who is your favorite lecturer?

KN: Goodness, there are many. It is so hard to find the time to hear the best lecturers. I like to go to lectures totally unrelated to dry eye to hear something new. I also like creative lecturers who blend systemic disease and clinical care.

JN: My wife.

Q: What do you do for fun?

KN: I am a runner, and I also enjoy cooking, and of course a nice glass of wine. Jason has taken sommelier courses, so I am the fortunate beneficiary of his knowledge.

JN: I pick them, and she drinks them. We also have two boys, Brady, age 11, and Cullan, age 8, so baseball, swim team, soccer and basketball is a big part of our lives. We want to show them as much of the world as we can, so we take them with us on international travel when we can.

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

KN: I recently finished reading The Paris Wife” A Novel, which is about Hadley and Ernest Hemingway. It would have been fantastic to live in 1920s Jazz Age of Paris with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso and the “lost generation.” They were so passionate about their art.

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

JN: We have a very eclectic mix from ’80s pop, new age electronica, classic rock (favorite U2), to current hip hop. We stop short of country…

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

KN: Overall general predictions: The future of the profession looks bright. Doctors entering the profession are smarter and more capable than ever before. …We hope that the passion for optometry that our mentors have demonstrated will translate to the new generation. In terms of market share, I can speak to this regarding dry eye, and Jason can speak on contact lenses. Optometry is poised to dominate dry eye, as optometrists want to manage dry eye and are very good at the patient skills necessary to be successful.

JN: In terms of contact lenses, we will continue to be at the forefront and have the majority marketshare.

Technology in this area will additionally lead to growth in the optometric profession.


The Nichols family at Sydney Harbour in Australia.

Travel, Food & Wine

In a New York State of Mind
Taking a bite out of “The Big Apple,” and a T-bone steak recipe.


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

I love New York City. I know. It’s such a trite and tired statement, but it is true: the plays on Broadway, the museums and, of course, the restaurants. The city really has something for everyone.

On Broadway

I highly recommend the Broadway musicals Jersey Boys and Mama Mia. Jersey Boys tells the fascinating story of how The Four Seasons vocal group became international pop superstars. Meanwhile, Mamma Mia cleverly uses ABBA’s disco jams to tell the story of a wedding. It’s a lot of fun.

Museum trip

For museums, head to the Guggenheim Museum, which showcases both contemporary and modern international art. The building itself is art: It is a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure laid out around a giant spiral. My suggestion: Start at the top, and work your way down, as this is a less tiring way of seeing the museum.


Raise your hand if you think NYC is cool.

Time to eat

Just for the fun of it, have lunch one day at the Carnegie Deli. The pastrami sandwiches are as thick as your pillow, and oh so tasty. That said, be prepared to stand in line outside. It’s a popular place. On another day, make reservations for lunch in The Museum of Modern Art’s dining room. This white tablecloth restaurant is beautifully decorated and features the French-American cuisine of Alsatian-born chef Gabriel Kreuther. Ask for a table overlooking the patio.

For that special romantic over-the-top dinner, try Daniel, Jean-Georges or my very favorite, Per Se. Per Se features the cuisine of Thomas Keller, a celebrated American chef. The restaurant doesn’t have an a la carte menu as such, but be prepared to consume at least 10 different plates of excellent food. Be sure to book ahead. Oh, and Daniel requires jackets for gentlemen, and beware of the lofty “prix fixe” menus.


For a big, juicy T-bone steak with a flavorful kick, mix two teaspoons of ancho chile powder, 1 and ½ teaspoons of ground cumin, one teaspoon of hot paprika, one teaspoon of garlic powder, one tablespoon of kosher salt and one teaspoon of ground pepper in a small mixing bowl.

Rub the seasoning on the raw T-bone steak, and grill the steak over moderate heat for eight minutes per side for a medium-rare outcome.

Then, transfer the steak to a work surface, and let rest for five minutes before serving. This is a recipe from chef Melissa Rubel Jacobson.


Fashion by FALIK


Jenn Falik is a style and beauty expert who has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Rachel Ray Show and E! News. Each month, she shares the latest styles and beauty trends and how to incorporate them into your practice. This month, Jenn springs into action with spring fashions for the female O.D.

Pretty in pastel: “Get a petal pink clutch and light lavender flats. Think Easter eggs hues gone chic.”

Radiant in ruffle: “Ruffles are ladylike and in some cases, very bold. Creating volume with ruffles for spring is a modern twist on a feminine classic.”

Excite with black & white: “Clean, graphic lines are key to pulling off this look. The stark contrast borders on edgy, while still feeling wearable.”

All that in matte: “Get matte hot pink lipstick. This is the perfect compliment to the color-of-the-season, emerald. Trade classic red or subtle gloss for something a little loud.”

Cute in shorts suits: “Fun and very flirtatious, suits featuring shorts, instead of slacks or pencil skirts, were all over the runways. For daytime, opt for subtle solids and longer lengths, but if you can get away with it at the office or for evening, short and sparkly is the way to go.”


Matte hot pink lipstick compliments emerald.


Actress Rose McGowan in a shorts suit at Milan Fashion week.

Key Industry Leader

Richard (Dick) Wallingford, O.D., F.A.A.O., director of Professional Affairs at Vistakon


Dr. Wallingford (left), wife Elaine and some family at Yosemite Park.

Q: Any comments about your company?

A: Vistakon has a long-standing commitment to optometry and to the thousands of optometrists who prescribe our products. We are committed to helping current and future optometrists prepare for and readily adapt to a complex and fast-changing healthcare environment.

Q: What is your prediction for the future of the profession of optometry, in terms of market share and pharmaceutical dominance?

A: Optometrists will be the primary eyecare providers and will have the large share of the overall eyecare market. As the primary eyecare providers, optometrists will be the primary prescribers of pharmaceutical products that deal with the most common diseases.

Q: What changes have you seen in the profession through the last five years?

A: The two most significant changes have been the growth in the use of electronic records and the expanded use of OCT technology. I am also seeing an expansion in delegation to staff members.

Q: What, in your opinion, will be the effect of the increase in the number of optometry schools?

A: I think it is too early to tell. The AOA/ASCO study will be released this year, and I believe that will give us some key insights. I sense the vast majority of optometrists today could see more patients, but if we ever get to the point of most Americans having health coverage at the same time as optometrist retire, and ophthalmology residencies decrease, the demand could significantly increase.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I was a white water raft guide for nine years, on the National Ski Patrol for 23 years, and now my favorite hobby is fly-fishing rivers in my drift boat.