ITHACA, NY – Growing up in a small Pennsylvania town, Edward Bryant IV, known as “Ted,” could never see the homework assignments on his classroom chalkboard like the other kids. Routine eye exams for kids were not a priority yet for parents in the 1980s. Although his mom got his eyes might just be tired after a day in school, Ted suspected something else. He asked his mother to hold up cereal boxes from a room away, and they observed he could not tell Cap’n Crunch from Cheerios at a distance.
“Our local optometrist had his office in a converted home; his super nice wife was his only employee, ”Ted said. “He was such an awesome guy with a great sense of humor; I was never afraid of visits to him. He did neat tests on neat machines. And then I put on my new glasses… As we walked home, I looked up at the big tree in the doctor’s front yard. ‘Mom, I can see all the leaves on the tree!’ ”
Ted’s father, a linesman for a utility company, advised Ted not to follow in his revered father’s footsteps – “Work with your head, not your hands,” Ted recited. Although, as it turns out, Ted has used both to enhance the well-being of so many community members since gaining his training.
After graduation with honors from the University of Pittsburgh’s accelerated pre-optometry program in 1995 and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1999, Ted explored and succeeded in a series of well-esteemed large ophthalmology clinics, large optometric groups in the Southern Tier, and served as a Consultant to the world’s leading contact lens manufacturer.
Fortunately, Ted and his family settled near Ithaca, where he has practiced for nine years, currently in his newly designed office, Clarity Eye Care, on Rt. 366 near NYSEG.
During Ted’s time in Ithaca, in addition to his family life and optometry practice, he has been a moving force behind two outstanding vision projects for all members of the community. The Lions Club Free Vision Clinic, available in partnership with the Ithaca Free Clinic, and the PreSchool Vision project. These programs are free for all community members, with the PreSchool Vision project’s special focus on children prior to first grade. “Early detection is huge!” Ted said.
“Children appear so adaptable,” Ted said. “If they have a vision imbalance, if one eye is Stronger than the other, if their vision is not as optimal as it could be, children will adapt. But, as our vision develops, if we only see it with one eye, the brain learns to ignore the weaker eye. If a child is nearsighted, farsighted, one eye is turned, the brain may ignore the poorer image and the connection between the brain and the eyes of the developing child will be challenged… Some of the deficit experienced may be fixable after age 7 or 8 , but it is much more difficult to relieve. ”
“The Lions Clubs in the Finger Lakes region have done a great job of detecting pre-school vision problems,” Ted added. “It’s not enough to help people who know they have a vision problem. The Lions Club project detects unknown problems as well. When a child who is treated and receives the proper glasses tells me ‘I didn’t know I could see this!’ My community service at the Lions Club vision projects is worth every minute. ”
Andrew D, a neighbor and a former part-time worker in Ted’s lovely new office, is now in his second successful year at the Optometry School. Andrew got knowing and working with Ted was his inspiration. Another former patient, who had his first eye exam at age 8 with Ted, describes him as his role model and inspiration for his own successful optometry practice in Vermont. The mentor optometrist stays in touch.
Ted ends our talk by urging community members to consider investing a few hours a month or every week to help the Ithaca Free Clinic, the home for the Lions Club vision projects.
“As my father used to say,‘ Many hands make light work… ’No experience is needed to Volunteer,” Ted said. “IFC has many tasks people can choose [from]. And good acts are never wasted. ”
“As we expand participation in our PreSchool Vision program – offering screenings in day care centers and in schools, we enhance children’s health,” he said. “Every child and every adult we assist uplifts our community, and we have the Pleasure of Joy in service.”
For information about the Ithaca Lions Club: https://www.ithacalions.com/
For the Lions Free Vision Clinic information see Ithaca Free Clinic: https://ithacahealth.org/