Formally he was Louis G. Hoffman, O.D., M.S., FAAO, FCOVD. But among his many colleagues, mentees and friends he was simply known as Lou. Much more than his name, “Lou” became a term of endearment and reverence when we spoke about him (much like the fondness Yankee fans held for their beloved left fielder, Lou Piniela). It was therefore with heavy hearts that word spread over the weekend about Lou’s passing, a couple of months shy of his 90th birthday.
Lou graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1956, and returned to the College in the mid 1970s to help spearhead a unique Pediatric Optometry Service that was being created by Dr. Jack Richman. He is pictured above with Dr. Richman (seated) as they collaborated in 1975, the year I first encountered him as a student in clinic. I’m sorry I don’t have a face-forward photo of Lou handy, but long-standing readers of the Journal of Optometric Vision Development will be able to image his pipe-toting visage as he regularly reviewed pertinent literature from ERIC, an online library of education research and information, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.
Courtesy of Dr. Richman, here is a photo of Dr Hoffman, as well as a photo of the MacElree Building on the campus of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in which the Pediatric Clinic was housed.
Lou wrote many things, but among his impressive contributions the finest may have been a three-part series that he authored for Optometric Monthly in February, March, and April of 1979. It was a distillation of the process of standardized testing, culminating in the evaluation profile that he began putting together with Jack at PCO earlier in the decade. Having pulled up their East Coast roots, Lou and Lettie moved to Southern California where he would serve as a mentor and role model for outstanding clinician/educators at SCCO, most notably Drs. Mike Rouse, Julie Ryan, Sue Cotter, and Eric Borsting.
His influence would pervade not only academia and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), but the Diplomate program in Binocular Vision and Perception of the American Academy of Optometry as well as the Fellowship program of COVD. Lou had a soft voice of reason, and a gift for enabling others to bring out the best in themselves. He was a deep thinker who was caring and compassionate, while at the same time remaining modest and self-effacing about the extent of his influence.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the optometric literature in the areas of vision therapy and vision development, Lou was the recipient of the A.M. Skeffington Award in 1993. On a personal note, having the privilege of presenting the award to Lou was one of the highlights of my professional career. I wish I still had the bibliography of his contributions that I put together in nominating him, but here is just a sample to give you a flavor.
Hoffman LG. An optometric learning disability evaluation- part 1. Optom Monthly 1979;70(2):78-81.
Hoffman LG. An optometric learning disability evaluation- part 2. Optom Monthly 1979;70(3):77-82.
Hoffman LG. An optometric learning disability evaluation- part 3. Optom Monthly 1979; 70(4): 70-77
Hoffman LG, Rouse, MW. Referral recommendations for binocular function and/or developmental perceptual deficiencies. J Am Optom Assoc 1980;51:119-26.
Hoffman LG. Incidence of vision difficulties in children with learning disabilities. J Am Optom Assoc 1980;51:447-51.
Hoffman LG. The effect of accommodative deficiencies on the developmental level of perceptual skills. Am J Optom Physiol Opt 1982;59:254-62.
Hoffman LG. The purpose and role of vision therapy. J Optom Vision Dev 1988; 19(1):2-7.
Hoffman LG. The role of the optometrist in the diagnosis and management of learning-related vision problems.
In: Scheiman MM, Rouse MW, eds. Optometric management of learning related vision problems. St. Louis: Mosby-Year Book, 1994. (Lou’s last project in Optometry was writing an update of this chapter for the 2nd edition of the book that was published in 2006.)
Lou’s fingerprints can be found on a number of other key publications, one being a special report on the efficacy of optometric vision therapy that was published in the Journal of the American Optometric Association in 1988, for which his input is acknowledged. Another is a Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association on Vision, Learning and Dyslexia, formulated by a Task Force on which Lou and I served along with Drs. Ron Bateman, Eric Borsting, Sue Cotter, Kelly Frantz, Ralph Garzia, Steve Miller, Glen Steele, and Gary Williams.
He is already sorely missed, but Lou can rest in peace knowing that his legacy lives on, flourishing through the organizations and individuals that he loved and nurtured.