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by Nathan Anderson

Steve Beaty, MD, has joined the UAB School of Optometry’s (UABSO) faculty as the School’s first volunteer ophthalmology professor teaching the Resident and Clinical Management courses, while providing clinical consultations at UAB Eye Care, UABSO’s clinical arm.

Beaty graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and began practicing at West Georgia Eye Care Center in 1987. Throughout the years in his career, Beaty has also provided eye care to indigent people and raised the level of healthcare in developing countries, spending the most time in Zimbabwe.

He became familiar with Zimbabwe’s people and culture after living there as a child with his missionary parents for 16 years. In 1999, he moved with his wife and three children to Zimbabwe to provide eye care to the underserved country.

“It was a divine calling that led my family and I to leave a private practice in Columbus, GA, for five years and to use my skills in ophthalmology to begin a consulting and teaching service in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,” Beaty said.

While in Zimbabwe, Beaty performed thousands of surgical procedures in 15 different hospitals and worked with local professionals to improve the healthcare offered throughout Zimbabwe.

“I have worked closely with all specialties of medicine in the city of Bulawayo and have made friendships with them in a collegial relationship,” he said. “I believe that the work that we have done has raised the level of healthcare, not only in eye care but also in educating primary care physicians about ophthalmic diseases and their management through these lectures and other consultations.”

Beaty and his wife, Jane, continue to provide aid to the people of Zimbabwe through their non-profit Eyecare to the Needy for around 12 weeks each year. In 2015, Beaty received the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award for providing outstanding service and care to indigent communities.

Beaty and his wife retired from West Georgia Eye Care Center in 2021 and moved to Birmingham to be closer to their family. While here, Beaty introduced himself to several local medical groups that led him to meet Dr. Elizabeth Steele who asked him if he would join UABSO as a volunteer professor.  

By joining UABSO, Beaty looks forward to working alongside his fellow faculty members while mentoring students in a clinical setting. In addition, he wants to pass his greatest lessons as a professional on to students in the hope that they will develop their skills along with a passion for helping the underserved.

“The greatest lessons for students to learn are: first, that it is an incredible privilege to bring eyesight back to someone who has lost it for various reasons,” Beaty said. “We should always keep foremost in our minds that these are people who come to see us because they are hurting. We have an opportunity to make a profound impact on their lives in the restoration of their eyesight.

“Second, never stop learning or searching for a higher and more excellent level of your education, skill and delivery of care for your patients. Third, keep the enjoyment of your career fresh, and despite the pressures of regulation, administration, legal issues and other problems, remember that our profession is a calling and is a privilege to serve our fellow man. “