Last week my former resident, Aaron Nichols, mentioned to me that I was listed as one of Newsweek’s top optometrists for 2022 and that he had commented on Facebook about my esteemed status. Of course I reviewed the list and was pleased to see some familiar names, over 20 colleagues from my alma mater, the State University of New York College of Optometry, including former professors and current colleagues as well as 2 well respected other CT optometrists. In some ways it felt like a big deal and in other ways not so much.
It was an honor to be recognized for my 40 years in the great field of optometry, beginning as a young 15 year old helping out on Saturdays and during the week for my optometrist, Dr. Carl Gruning, a 40 year instructor in vision therapy at SUNY Optometry and former president of COVD, the College of Optometrists for Vision Development. As a young person, I was amazed at the power of vision therapy to change lives, witnessing first hand children and adults struggling and exhibiting immature behaviors such as not making eye contact, bumping into people and walls, and grunting instead of speaking. Sometimes weeks or months later these patients would engage with me and demonstrate appropriate social behaviors. Naturally, I wanted to go into optometry to help others in much the same way.
To that end I worked for and observed in many different practices through the years, including Dr. Andrea Thau’s practice while in optometry school, another Newsweek 2022 top optometrist recipient, as well as other former professors Dr. Steve Shaby and Dr. Bob Byne. I studied with some great minds including Drs. Paul Harris, Dr. Gus Forkiotis, Dr. Al Shankman and Dr. Marc Grossman. Early on in my career I opened my own practice in Norwalk, CT to provide vision therapy and behavioral care to my patients. Over time I added another location in Trumbull, CT with support from my husband at the time, Dr. Neil Rosen. My current practice, EyeCare Associates, PC, was formed when Dr. Stephen Carr and I purchased Dr. Gruning and Dr. Mellinger’s Southport practice and then Dr. Shaby’s Stamford practice, who remains with us today.
The intention was to continue to provide care that made a positive difference in the lives of our patients. Every day we see patients who are seeking exceptional vision care, many of whom require specialized contact lens, dry eye, and functional vision care. Through the years I have been grateful to be able to work with many amazing optometrists in our practice, including Dr. Narvan Bennett for many years and Dr. Tanya Ayzikovich Bloom, also our first resident in our SUNY vision therapy and rehabilitation residency program. I am currently appreciative to be working with some truly compassionate and capable optometrists. Dr. Justin Rapp is well loved by his patients and specializes in contact lenses, dry eye and disease management. Patients who have had difficulty finding the right fit for contacts or cannot wear contact lenses due to dry eye are happy to finally be able to wear contact lenses. Dr. Magy Tepliz’s patients appreciate her care in primary care and contact lenses and family members return to see her. Drs. Jason Grygier, Diana Ngo, Maryam Nizami, Sonia Singh and Steve Shaby all provide routine care as well as specialize in functional vision care and vision therapy. They routinely see patients with ongoing vision problems including difficulty with blurred vision, double vision, lazy eyes, reading challenges, and complications from concussions, brain injuries, inflammatory diseases, and more.
The practice is dedicated to comprehensive and integrative patient care. The doctors, team members, and vision therapists love to see the smiles and changes in our patients. They report improvements in school, ability to drive, healing from a brain injury, reducing or controlling myopia, enjoying sports more since wearing contact lenses, and reducing a lifelong eye turn. I recall the child who could not read who is now reading Harry Potter books, the 20 year old who could not get his license due to an eye turn that is happily driving after vision therapy, the stroke patient who no longer sees double, and the mother who recently reported to me in tears after seeing me 7 years later the positive impact prism glasses had on her son with learning challenges.
So, yes, it is exciting to achieve this recognition. Yet, at the same time, there is nothing else I would do as a career and I need no acknowledgment for my care. It is a labor of love and all the accolades I need come from each and every patient whose lives are changed for the better through our care. I am lucky to have learned from and worked with so many other doctors who also change lives and have the opportunity to teach the next generation of interns, residents, and interested optometrists.
Randy Schulman, O.D., FCOVD, FCSO