News spread quickly throughout the optometric community online yesterday and throughout the evening on the passing of Arthur Epstein, O.D. A pioneer and icon in the dry eye field, he graduated SUNY O in 1977 and although relocating to Arizona never lost his New York street smarts. I knew from chatting with him numerous times through the years that he always retained a clandestine respect for vision therapy and rehabilitation, even if that “wasn’t his thing”.
A fierce advocate for optometry, he never shied away from controversy. In 2009 he was very active in forming the American Optometric Society, an alternative group that opposed the way the AOA was going about its pursuit of a board certification process. Although his political connections with the AOA frayed at the time, that didn’t stop him for championing various causes in Optometry. He was gracious with his knowledge and expertise, and contributed many times when called upon to provide commentary in his areas of interest for Elsevier’s Practice Update Eyecare. He was a consummate professional, and his passion for our profession was always on display.
Art was perhaps most widely known throughout our profession through editing the e-newsletter Optometric Physician. The last one he wrote was dated May 9, 2022, and fittingly urged his colleagues to double down on establishing Uniform Optometric Minimum Practice Standards.
“As regular readers of Optometric Physician know, Arthur had surgery on August 17th, but getting to that point actually began back in January. After his primary care physician retired during the pandemic, he was establishing care with a new concierge primary care physician. All his blood work came back perfect, and he felt fine. During his visit, the doctor palpated his abdomen and asked if anything was sore; there was a mildly sore spot on his left side. He ordered an ultrasound. Even today Arthur’s new PCP says he doesn’t know why he did that since everything appeared to be normal. The large mass found on Arthur’s kidney began a barrage of specialist visits, second opinions, further testing, and surgical consults on days off, early morning pre-clinic appointments, lunchtime Zoom calls, and ended with hours and days on end of sitting in hospital rooms with teams of doctors coming and going, seemingly clueless about the previous team’s recommendations …
… Note about Epstein: a lot of complications and procedures chasing after those complications landed him back in ICU a day after our initial downgrade. Today he’s stable for the first time in a week and finally allowed to start eating…even if it’s only liquids. Thank you to everyone who’s expressed good thoughts and prayers. The journey continues.”
But alas, Art’s journey on this earth has come to end. He is gone, but will long be remembered. Condolences to Art’s family, and to the optometric community at large.