AS PART OF OM’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY celebration, the magazine is recognizing those who have made significant contributions to the profession. Our methodology: In May, OM editors emailed key opinion leaders (KOLs), asking them to nominate people who “have contributed, are contributing or are likely to contribute to the betterment and/or advancement of eye care.” We placed no limit on the number of nominations each KOL could submit. The email generated an overwhelming response — more than 400 nominations. To make the list that follows a more manageable size, we included individuals who received three or more nominations. OM is honored to have the opportunity to say “thank you” to those listed below. We also invite you to comment at

Paul Ajamian, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Ajamian is the center director of Omni Eye Services of Atlanta and a pioneer of optometric co-management. He is past president of the Georgia Optometric Association, founding member of the American Board of Optometry and CE chairman of SECO International. In 2014, he was awarded AOA’s Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the AOA’s National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2015 ■

Larry Alexander, O.D., F.A.A.O.
McKinney, Texas

Dr. Alexander has played many roles in the profession. Without a doubt, his contributions in education while teaching at the University of Alabama (UAB) School of Optometry, providing CE and mentoring others is his legacy. He is also very proud of bringing the text Primary Care of the Posterior Segment to the profession ■

Arol Augsburger, O.D., MS, F.A.A.O.

Receiving numerous national and state awards, Dr. Augsburger has been honored for his contribution to optometry’s evolution as an integral part of the nation’s health system. He has served for more than 45 years at the nation’s optometric colleges, including the Illinois College of Optometry, where he currently serves as president ■

Joe Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.
Columbus, Ohio

Dr. Barr was editor of Contact Lens Spectrum, founded Contact Lenses Today, received the AAO Max Schapero Memorial Lecture Award, was director of the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus Photography Reading Center, sponsored by the NEI at The Ohio State University, led medical affairs teams at Bausch+Lomb, designed the baby lens for Silsoft at Dow Corning and is now bringing innovation to eye health at Ohio State ■

Jimmy Bartlett, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Birmingham, Ala.

Among the first optometrists to establish a rigorous approach to pharmacologic education, Dr. Bartlett’s Clinical Ocular Pharmacology (co-edited by Siret Jaanus, Ph.D) serves as the professional standard for a generation of optometric students and practicing clinicians. ■

Ed Bennett, O.D., M.S.Ed., F.A.A.O., F.S.L.S.
St. Louis

Dr. Bennett believes it was a privilege to have the opportunity to perform RGP contact lens clinical research and become associated with the GP Lens Institute and help in developing educational resources and programs while also authoring texts with such exceptional clinicians as Barry Weissman, Bob Grohe and Vinita Henry ■

Irving Bennett, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Beaver Falls, Pa.

Irving Bennett’s 45 years of practice was a model for private practitioners. In his second concurrent career with OM, he chronicled the profession for 35 years. He originated the trail-blazing OptiFair, the forerunner of Vision Expo. He cites his legacy as his children and grandchildren, three of whom practice in the optometric/ophthalmic fields ■

Irvin M. Borish, O.D., D.O.S.

Dr. Borish, “the father of clinical optometry,” wrote the textbook Clinical Refraction, a must-have for optometry students, was a founder of the School of Optometry at Indiana University, a participant of the famed LaGuardia meeting, a teacher, an inventor and the first optometrist inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame ■

Mile Brujic, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Bowling Green, Ohio

Dr. Brujic has helped the optometric profession evolve in an ever-changing environment through sharing of best practices. In the last several years, he and optometrist David Kading have worked with students and those transitioning into the profession by sharing tools to help them accelerate their success. He says it is truly an honor to be able to work with those who will shape the profession in the years to come ■

Dori Carlson, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Park River & Grafton, N.D.

Dr. Carlson was the first woman to serve as president of the AOA. She developed the School Readiness Summit, which evolved into a statement signed by 30 different organizations calling for a comprehensive eye exam to be the foundation of children’s vision care. This statement was used to define the Essential Pediatric Vision Benefit in health care reform ■

Lou Catania, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Jacksonville, Fla.

As a clinician, educator and author, Dr. Catania challenged health care’s status quo by passionately promoting the concept of primary care optometry worldwide. He made ocular therapeutics a part of routine optometric practice through his unique and popular lectures and textbooks. His residency program in the 1970s and “100 hour” therapeutic certifying courses for practitioners were the prototypes for today’s optometric education ■

David Cockrell, O.D.
Stillwater, Okla.

Advancement of optometric scope of practice has been critical to Dr. Cockrell throughout his career. He feels privileged to have participated on state and federal legislative advocacy teams’ outreach to accomplish the scope expansions that have allowed optometry to be recognized and fully integrated as providers in the health care system ■

Rob Davis, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Oak Lawn, Ill.

Dr. Davis’ best contributions have resulted in the development phase of novel devices and promoting the advancement of education. He has held leadership roles in the AOA, AAO, NAP and other professional organizations. An advisor with industry, he seeks to crack the code for multifocal contact lens prescribing ■

Mark T. Dunbar, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Dunbar is a 28-year member of the optometric staff at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where he is the director of optometry and has served as the Optometry Residency supervisor since its inception in 1994; this year marks the 22nd year of the residency, and he is proud to have had more than 80 residents ■

Glenn Ellisor, O.D.
Humble, Texas

Dr. Ellisor founded Vision Source in 1991 to help independent private practices compete and thrive. Today, he hopes Vision Source, with more than 3,200 locations and 4,000 optometrists, has not only met that goal, but also has inspired other independent optometrists to join forces and to form alliances to do the same ■

Art Epstein, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.B.C.L.A.

Optometry has led Dr. Epstein on an amazing and incredibly gratifying journey. From the start, his focus has been education, advocacy and professional empowerment. He’s traveled the world and spoken in nearly 50 countries; delivering in excess of 1,500 lectures, authoring hundreds of articles and a dozen book chapters ■

Murray Fingeret, O.D., F.A.A.O
Brooklyn, N.Y.

In 2001, Dr. Fingeret founded the Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS), which consists of clinicians, educators and researchers with an interest in glaucoma, that became a role model for other groups that formed. OGS became part of the World Glaucoma Association, allowing others worldwide to recognize the ability of optometry to be involved clinically and intellectually in a medical eye condition ■

Frank “Uncle Frank” Fontana, O.D.
St. Louis

“Uncle Frank” delighted in sharing his experience and expertise with the four O’s: optometry, ophthalmology, opticianry and the ophthalmic industry throughout his career. A pioneer in fitting contact lenses, the educator, clinician and consultant started his practice in 1950 and continues to see patients. Active in both local and national organizations, Dr. Fontana was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2012 ■

Ben Gaddie, O.D.
Louisville, Ky.

As president-elect of the Kentucky Optometric Association in 2011, Dr. Gaddie helped secure laser surgical scope expansion legislation in Kentucky. The live debate on Kentucky Public Television with members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology went viral worldwide and helped mitigate many of the negative perceptions about optometrists ■

Matt Geller, O.D.
San Diego

Most notable for his contributions in online publishing and web platform creation, Dr. Geller is credited with the foundation of three industry-changing web sites: (2009), a large online resource for students; (2013), an online resource for new graduates; and (2015), an online, job discovery platform for health care professionals ■

Alan Glazier, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Rockville, Md.

Author, inventor and technology thought leader, Dr. Glazier has spent much of his career educating colleagues on how to achieve business success using online communication tools. He is credited with creating the “ODs on Facebook” forum, developing it into a large, engaged and influential forum with more than 20,000 members (and counting) ■

Alden N. Haffner, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O.
New York

Dr. Haffner organized the LaGuardia meeting, the tipping point that opened optometry to drugs and expanded scope of practice. He helped establish the SUNY College of Optometry and developed the first long-term teaching program for public health at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. He was founding chairman of the AOA Ethics Committee and served at the VA for 25 years ■

Brien Holden, Ph.D.
(1942 - 2015)

Professor Holden believed his most important contribution was to the study of “corneal physiology and contact lenses, myopia and uncorrected refractive error.” He was CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute, a professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales and a founder of Optometry Giving Sight. He will be remembered for his humanitarian work to provide eye care to underprivileged persons worldwide ■

Richard Hopping, O.D.
Fullerton, Calif.

Dr. Hopping authored the Optometric Oath, held as a guide for ethical standards, which was adopted by the AOA and ASCO. From 1973 to 1997, he served as president of the Southern California College of Optometry, where the academic center bears his name. He was also president of the AOA and ASCO ■

Lester E. Janoff, O.D., M.S.E.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Janoff conducted contact lens research, practiced privately, provided contact lens education at three colleges of optometry and served as editor of Optometric Education. His memory lives on through the Lester Janoff Cornea and Contact Lens Memorial Award and the Dr. Lester Janoff Award for Writing Excellence, created by the Association of Contact Lens Educators and ASCO, respectively ■

Scott Jens, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Madison, Wis.

Dr. Jens has committed to a career of continuous learning and is focused on providing valued contributions to optometry. Luckily, he’s had opportunities to work with great eye care minds, most notably with an amazing AOA committee to deliver InfantSEE. Today, he focuses on serving RevolutionEHR customers with desirable software and services ■

Lyndon Jones, Ph.D., FCOptom, F.A.A.O
Ontario, Canada

Dr. Jones’ biggest contribution to optometry has been to provide a link to help eye care practitioners better understand the complex inter-relationship between tear film, contact lens solutions and contact lens materials ■

Dave Kading, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Kirkland, Wash.

Dr. Kading wants people to reach their full potential and has taken this on in practice, teaching and consulting. He mentors students from six different optometry schools and has a fellowship program focused around dry eye disease and contact lenses. He also co-owns with Dr. Mile Brujic Optometric Insights, which helps optometrists and students get to their desired place in practice more quickly ■

Paul Karpecki, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Lexington, Ky.

Dr. Karpecki’s accomplishments have elevated optometry through education, service to the profession and industry and research, helping patients through innovative technologies and therapies. He is now most excited about a concept called Ophthalmic Resources, a project that will provide eye doctors with “a game-changing opportunity” around ocular surface disease ■

Donald Korb, O.D.

Dr. Korb is credited with the discovery/naming of meibomian gland disease (MGD), non-obvious MGD, lid wiper epitheliopathy, giant papillary conjunctivitis, lid debridement and lid seal vs. lid closure. He also invented the first membrane soft lens, the precursor of modern lenses; lipid technology products, including Soothe XP and Systane Balance; LipiFlow; LipiView; Dynamic Meibomian Imaging meibography; and Korb MGE ■

Tom Lewis, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O.
Elkins Park, Pa.

As a professor and administrator at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry/Salus University for 43 years, Dr. Lewis has dedicated himself to the education of students and practitioners worldwide, contributing to the expanding scope of optometry. He also has held leadership positions in most every major organization within the profession ■

Ron Melton, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Charlotte, N.C.

Since graduating from optometry school and serving in the U.S. Army, Dr. Melton has been inspired to educate his colleagues on the latest advances in optometry. Through participating in more than 1,000 lectures, 100 articles and 50 research projects, he has made a contribution to raising optometry to a high level of competence ■

Scot Morris, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Conifer, Colo.

As an educator, editor, author, eye care provider and consultant, Dr. Morris has helped to influence the profession through his interaction with industry and the profession at all levels across the fields of ocular surface disease, technology and practice management. He feels his most important contributions are those yet to come ■

Kelly Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D.
Birmingham, Ala.

Dr. Nichols’ more than 10-year involvement in the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society international workshops, first on the Dry Eye WorkShop (DEWS) steering committee, then as chair of the MGD workshop and the steering committee for contact lens discomfort and now DEWS II, has allowed her to help change perceptions about dry eye diagnosis and management by optometrists ■

Kenneth A. Polse, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.
Berkeley, Calif.

Dr. Polse is professor and director of the Berkeley Clinical Scientist Development Program. Forty years of clinical and research experience convinced him that astute clinical observations drive the research agenda, and discovery and clinical implementation require collaborative efforts between basic and clinical scientists. He has published 140 articles, trained many clinicians and scientists and served on national and international scientific committees ■

Howard Purcell, O.D., F.A.A.O.

During Nova Southeastern University’s College of Optometry inception, Howard Purcell developed its contact lens clinical and didactic program. He created the concept and developed the physical design and construction for The Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. He was also a key witness testifying in support of the right for contact lens companies to sell only to customers who obey federal and state laws ■

Dave Sattler, F.A.A.O.
Colleyville, Texas

At Alcon, Mr. Sattler supported education that embraced the total patient care model. He helped build the Community Eye Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, an externship training site that offers affordable eye care and medications to patients of limited income. He serves on the board for Optometry Cares and the Southern College of Optometry ■

Jack Schaeffer, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Trussville, Ala.

Dr. Schaeffer co-founded the Ocular Surface Society of Optometry and authored a mini-series on contact lens history. He was the AOA spokesperson regarding the dangers of Acanthamoeba. He is an editor for the International Contact Lens Leadership Summit, Eye & Contact Lens and OM’s “O.D. Scene.” He also serves on the board of Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation ■

Leo Semes, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Birmingham, Ala.

The author of more than 230 articles, posters, scientific publications and book chapters, Dr. Semes also is recognized as an accomplished educator. He is a nominee for the UAB Lifetime Teaching Award (2016), the 1993 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as AOSA recognitions. He is among the founders of the Optometric Retinal Society and OGS ■

Kirk Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Morrow & Giffin, Ga.

CE has always been Dr. Smick’s top priority. It started with the Omni referral centers and has continued in his previous roles as chairman of CE for SECO and AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting, as well as his current position as chairman for the Vision Expo programs. Finally, he has created an environment where industry has partnered at different meetings to create excellent CE programs ■

Earl Smith, O.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Smith’s research on refractive development has helped define the operating characteristics of the vision-dependent mechanisms that regulate ocular growth. In particular, he demonstrated that peripheral vision has a significant impact on central refractive development. These results motivated the development of peripheral optical treatment strategies for slowing myopia progression in children ■

David Sullins, O.D.
(1942 – 2005)

A founding member of AFOS, Dr. Sullins became the first optometrist to attain the rank of rear admiral. One of his most cherished programs, InfantSEE, developed into a nationwide public eye care program. He pioneered cooperative management of surgical cases between optometrists and eye surgeons and was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2002 ■

Randall Thomas, O.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.O.
Concord, N.C.

Dr. Thomas is most grateful to the North Carolina General Assembly who listened to optometric leaders in 1977 and passed landmark therapeutic legislation that enabled the profession to provide greatly expanded patient care services; this prompted his pursuit of an optometric education. As with most things, he says it’s the people who go before us for which much gratitude is due ■

Stanley J. Yamane, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Jacksonville, Fla.

Dr. Yamane served for 13 years at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care as its vice president of professional affairs, helping to introduce disposable contact lenses to the world. While in clinical practice, he lectured internationally on contact lenses, solution care systems and practice management. He has authored several articles and book chapters ■

Karla Zadnik, O.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Zadnik, a University of California — Berkeley graduate, dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and past president of the AAO, was chairman of two NEI-funded multicenter observational studies in optometry, investigating keratoconus and juvenile-onset myopia, but considers her experiences mentoring future academic leaders to be her real legacy ■ OM

The “Most Influential List” was tabulated and edited by the OM editors with significant contributions from Deborah Fisher, contributing editor.