Community spotlight: Dr. Randy Schulman, MS, OD, FCO- VD, principal of Eyecare Associates with four locations in Fairfield County, has been a leader in the holistic health field in this area for more than 30 years.
An early fascination with optometry led her to study that as a medical specialty and became a path to iridology and alternative optometric techniques that have served her many patients well over the years. Natural Awakenings recently spoke with Schulman about her journey and experiences.
What led you to optometry as a profession?
I always wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old. As a teen I worked for a few different doctors to determine which one I wanted to be. I worked for an orthodontist, gynecologist/surgeon and an optometrist. I was fascinated with optometry and knew at 15 years of age that I would go to optometry school after college.
How did you first discover your passion for vision?
When I was working for a behavioral optometrist I saw kids that were all over the place, making noises and not engaged come for vision therapy and then 10 weeks later say, “Hi Randy,” calmly and able to walk down the hallway without touching everything. That had a big impact on me.
When did you begin to under-stand the implications of vision health for overall wellness?
During optometry school my dad gave me a book on iridology that I put aside for 10 years. Cleaning out my office, I found it and started studying it. I subsequently began studying a number of different systems of iridology and began incorporating it into my practice. It gave me a tool into the health and wellness of the entire body, learning styles, and the gifts and challenges of the individual.
What gets you most excited about the work you do?
I am most excited by the work we are doing using optometric testing, iridology and bioenergetic testing to optimize treatment modalities and make recommendations for improving health and wellness, optimizing learning, enhancing energy, balancing emotions and increasing cognitive function.
Which elements of the work frustrate you?
What is most frustrating is the lack of awareness in the general community about the efficacy of alternative treatments. Many of the treatments I use, specifically the optometric photo therapy and vision therapy are very well researched and proven effective and/or more effective than traditional treatments. What is worse, these treatments are denounced in the United States yet used as a first course in Europe.
When you began to create various locations, what was your vision for the work that would happen there and the practitioners who would join you?
I really did not have an intention to create larger centers or multiple locations. My intention was to expand awareness and accessibility of behavioral and integrative vision care. In Connecticut alone there were 12 optometrists that did this work and either passed or retired without passing on their practices. Those practices all closed or stopped providing vision therapy or the kind of care that I learned from some of them after graduating optometry school. I am committed to teaching and training other doctors so that we will have at least as many practices offering advanced optometric care. I had one practice in Norwalk that I began in 1995 and then opened the second one in Trumbull in 2003. In 2013, Dr. Gruning, a professor of mine from optometry school and the original optometrist I worked for as a teen, wanted to retire and there was no one to take over his practice. Rather than having the practice stop providing vision therapy, I took over. Then in 2017, another early employer and supervisor from optometry school asked if I would take on his practice as well. I now offer internships from six different optometry schools and recently acquired a residency pro-gram through SUNY Optometry. We are the only private practice optometry site of the 40 plus residency sites for SUNY.
What is your vision for the next five years? Where do you want to go?
I am committed to training and teaching young doctors to work with us and open practices of their own. So far, four other doctors have gone on to open vision therapy practices of their own. We are welcoming three new doctors, two former interns and a SUNY resident graduate. Two of our doctors are moving on to begin work with retiring doctors in upstate New York and Michigan this summer. I want to continue to train doctors on the behavioral, rehabilitative and integrative model of vision and expand our reach to patients that we can help through community engagement, education and communication. I personally would like to spend more time working in a multi-disciplinary manner, lecturing and writing on vision rehabilitation in the brain injured population, developmental delays, iridology and integrative optometry.
Dr. Randy Schulman, MS, OD, FCOVD of Eyecare Associates, PC has locations in Trumbull, Southport, Norwalk and Stamford. Visit CTEyecareAssociates.com for individual location contact information or to schedule an appointment.
A CONVERSATION WITH Randy Schulman of Eyecare Associates As Seen in Natural Awakenings Fairfield County/Housatonic Valley • June 2019 • eNaturalAwakenings.com HEALTHY LIVING HEALTHY PLANET