I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Stefani Martin two months ago in a tragic golf cart accident near her home at the age of 41. I first met Dr. Martin in Delray Beach, Florida, when searching for an optometrist who could provide lens and vision therapy guidance for a grandchild living nearby in Boynton Beach. I was impressed with a video she had posted online about her full scope practice, Ocean Optics, and subsequently enjoyed conversations with her about practice philosophy and prescribing.
Dr. Martin was a 2005 graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University’s College of Optometry. She opened her practice cold in Delray Beach after graduation, with her mother Cheryl serving as her right hand in the office. With a passion for vision therapy, Dr. Martin enrolled in OEP post-graduate courses and attained her Fellowship in COVD in 2010.
As you’ll see in the video above, Stefani channeled her talent for dance into a gig as a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, and here is the 2007 squad photo in which she is sixth from the left on the third row. I mention this because it was something she was very proud of, and was understandably a conversation piece in her office.
In one of the many tributes on her obituary page, a former patient writes: “Dr. Stefani Martin was my children’s and my eye doctor when she had her practice in Delray Beach, Florida. From the moment my kids and I met her, we knew she was a great fit for us as our optometrist. She was not your typical eye doctor. She was young, beautiful, educated, kind, and passionate about what she did. We admired her as our eye doctor. We were amazed every time we had an appointment to see photos of her as a Miami Dolphin cheerleader hung on the wall when we were filling out paper work in the waiting room. Her office was very clean and our visits were always enjoyable. My daughters and I were inspired by all of her accomplishments as a woman at such a young age.”
More impressive than her external attributes was Stefani’s internal beauty, and the way in which she was able to cheerlead children to success through her skills and knowledge in vision therapy. After giving birth to her son J.R. in 2011, and daughter Mackenna in 2013, she ultimately sold her practice in Delray Beach and relocated to North Carolina to focus on her family while continuing to work part-time.
Stefani frequently moved as a child, but retained the charm of the midwest having spent her middle and high school years in Naperville, Illinois. Here she is, with her childhood sweetheart and kids, floating atop the Sears Tower on a visit to Chicago two years ago. A memorial service to celebrate her life was held on July 23, 2021. Her relatively brief legacy may not be well-known to many within Optometry, but it should be.