Message From the Dean

Dr. Kelly K. NicholsWelcome to the UAB School of Optometry – a small school with a big impact!

The UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) was established by the Alabama legislature in 1969 and admitted its first class of eight students on September 27, 1969. The School’s first Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degrees were awarded on June 4, 1973. Since that time, the School has grown to include graduate degrees (M.S., Ph.D.) in Vision Science and post-doctoral residency education. However, the optometry classes still average only 40 – 45 students. This makes us one of the smaller optometry schools in the country – a fact that we feel benefits the educational experience of our students.

When UABSO was founded it was located in central Alabama as part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham academic health center. This affords our students an opportunity to be surrounded with other health professionals and researchers. It also offers students the many benefits of a small school within a large urban university. UABSO students may take advantage of the same university sponsored events and programs as those available to undergraduate students. In addition, Birmingham is a vibrant metropolitan community that retains considerable small-town charm. There is something for everyone including hiking, museums, golf, the symphony, football, concerts and much more.

UABSO has a world-class reputation for educating optometrists and vision scientists. Our faculty is among the best known in the country through their lectures, research and publications including many textbooks. Our students and faculty perform community service in multiple venues from local neighborhoods to third-world countries. Perhaps our best known service is the excellent patient care provided in the recently renovated clinic “UAB Eye Care,” a 34,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that covers everything from primary eye care, including the dispensing of glasses and contacts, to the treatment of ocular disease, as well as low vision rehabilitation and pediatric vision care.

We now have more than 1,200 graduates of the School who form one of the most involved and caring group of alumni of any school in the country. They offer their support whenever and wherever asked. They sponsor many of our student programs, serve as student mentors, assist with recruiting of new students, serve on optometric association and legislative committees, and most recently generously provided financial support to help complete the UAB Eye Care renovation. Our graduates represent the best of what UABSO is all about. We produce highly skilled and compassionate optometrists who care about the patients they serve, the communities in which they practice and the School.

Please take a few moments to browse this website and learn more about us – our programs, faculty, facilities, history, and the reasons why UABSO is so special. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions or would like to visit the School.


Kelly K. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO