Rest in Peace, Dr. Art Epstein

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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.

On the Optometric Physician facebook page, his optometric wife and partner Shannon Steinhäuser wrote:

“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.

8 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Dr. Art Epstein

  1. So very sad to hear of this great loss!! He was my hero from whom I had amassed so much knowledge which elevated my ‘Dry Eye’ practice/management. I will miss his New York style candor, tireless efforts, unbiased views, sharing spirit and guidance!
    Thank you for all your contributions to our profession, and may you rest in peace, Dr. Epstein. My condolences to the family.
    Thank you for this update, Len.

  2. Dr Epstein, was is the most compassionate, caring and intelligent professional I have ever met. He gave me hope when I had none, he truly took time with his patients, empathized with them, worked with them, and most of all always supported them, in whatever he could do.

    The world was a better place with him in it. My heart is broken, because we all have lost a great man. My condolences to his family, his colleagues, and all of the people that he helped. Thank you for sharing this wonderful man with all of us. You will be deeply missed, and I am forever grateful for all that you have done for the people who depended on you for help and healing. Thank you Dr Epstein and rest in peace.

    Marsha Larson

  3. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with Art, getting his feedback and suggestions to help improve patient outcomes and the practice of optometry. I know that he has helped me do my job better as well as made so many others better at their delivery of eye care. Our profession is better because of the work Art has done.
    Condolences to the family but know his legacy will live on.
    Kurt Moody, OD

  4. On September 28, 2022. the world lost not only a great doctor but also a wonderful caring person that gave my wife and I not only hope, but treatments that helped my wife improve tremendously. My wife, Marsha, was injured in early 2020 while receiving a facial treatment that damaged the trigeminal nerve. This in turn damaged nerves in her corneas and effected her tear and oil making ability leaving her with severe dry eye and made for a difficult case. My wife sought out many ophthalmologists here in Tucson and even a specialist in Chicago before finding Dr. Epstein . The very first visit we were so encouraged by his professionalism, his kindness and concern to help give her back her life. The treatments he has prescribed over the past two years helped my wife improve and be able to cope with life again and gave us so much hope. He was soft spoken and such a genuine person. We know he helped so many people besides my wife and will be missed so very very much. We are so fortunate to have had you in our lives.

    Thank you and rest in peace Dr. Epstein. We give our condolences to his family.

  5. I am still swaying from this news today. Art was such a genuine “GOOD” man, with a kind heart and warm spirit towards all of his colleagues. My heart goes out to you Dr./Mrs. Epstein and family. Art has left some truly HUGE shoes to fill in the dry eye community, he was my guru who encouraged me to “go for it” and do dry eye like no other in Tucson. I will miss the “smarts”, the comradeship, and his support. May you rest in peace, your name will live on.

  6. I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Dr. Epstein, a truly wonderful human being and such an incredible doctor. I was so fortunate to find him when I had little hope and felt depressed about the condition of my eyes. He was so kind and caring and gave me the necessary tools to manage my condition plus help to get me living life again. I learned so much from Dr. Epstein, not just about eyes but about life. He was a kind and generous, intellectual giant. He always had time for his patients, despite his enormous work schedule. He gave everything to us and I am forever grateful.

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