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Alfred A. Rosenbloom, Pioneer in Optometry, Aging, Has Died

Date: 4/30/2015

Alfred A. Rosenbloom, internationally respected optometrist and former president of the Illinois College of Optometry, died April 7, 2015. Dr. Rosenbloom's career was filled with noted accomplishments in his roles as teacher, writer, lecturer, and administrator, and several generations of optometric students have benefited from his wisdom, insight, integrity, and concern for humankind. Dr. Rosenbloom became interested in optometry when he was serving the U.S. Army at Fort Stewart, in Georgia, where he met two optometrists from a local hospital. After being discharged from the military, he went on to attend Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago (now the Illinois College of Optometry [ICO]) through funds from the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (known informally as the "G.I. Bill," it provided low-interest loans to former service members). After graduating from ICO in 1948, he went on to hold the positions of dean of the college, from 1955 to 1972, and president, from 1972 to 1982. In 1981, he was appointed as the college's first distinguished professor, and he remained a distinguished professor emeritus for the institution after his retirement.

In 1952, Dr. Rosenbloom became a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), with the designation of Diplomate in Low Vision. He achieved lifetime fellowship status with AAO in 1991, a recognition given to fellows who have rendered distinguished service to the art and science of optometry. Dr. Rosenbloom was the founding director of the Low Vision Service of the Chicago Lighthouse, a nonprofit agency located in Illinois. As such, he was in attendance in 1955 when Helen Keller herself dedicated the organization's headquarters and clinic on Roosevelt Road in Chicago. In addition, he helped to establish clinics for people with low vision in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In leadership roles with the nonprofit vision-services organization Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH), Dr. Rosenbloom completed over 25 missions overseas to provide free eye examinations and eyeglasses, and he was named the 2007 VOSH Humanitarian of the Year.

Dr. Rosenbloom also dedicated his time and expertise to various advisory roles. In 1982, he served as conference chair for Research Need in Vision and Aging for the White House Conference on Aging; in 1995, he served again as a delegate to the conference. He was a member of the grants-review panel for the Optometry Review Committee, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; and for 10 years he chaired the Advisory Research Council for the American Optometric Foundation. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) from 1988 until 2001.

When Dr. Rosenbloom was not teaching, advising, or volunteering, he was writing. He published more than 75 professional journal articles on the topics of low vision rehabilitation, optometric gerontology, optometric education, and public health, and he was coeditor of the seminal textbook Vision and Aging, along with the late Meredith W. Morgan. In addition, he edited or served as contributing author to more than 10 additional textbooks.

Dr. Rosenbloom was honored for his accomplishments in his lifetime. He was given the AAO William Feinbloom Award in 1995 and the AAO Carel C. Koch Inter-professional Memorial Medal in 1999. Also in 1999, he was bestowed the highest honor in the blindness field, AFB's Migel Medal, which was presented to him and fellow honoree Abraham Nemeth, inventor of the tactile mathematics code. In 2010, he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.

His legacy continues with the establishment of the Alfred and Sarah Rosenbloom Center on Vision and Aging at the Illinois Eye Institute in Chicago, which opened in January 2015. The Rosenbloom Center was established to provide eye care services for older individuals. For more information, contact: Alfred and Sarah Rosenbloom Center on Vision and Aging, Illinois Eye Institute, 3241 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616; phone: 312-949-7255; e-mail: ebaas@ico.edu; website: www.illinoiseyeinstitute.org.

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