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John Laurent, OD, PhD, FAAO, is an associate professor who specializes in contact lens fitting. He received his OD from Ohio State University along with his master’s degree in Vision Science. Laurent went on to earn his PhD in vision science with a research area of corneal psychology from UABSO. He has practiced in the US Navy and Army where he served 30 years. For four years, he worked as a research scientist for the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Lab and later served as the research director for the Navy Refractive Surgery Center. Laurent is a member of the Academic Optometric Association, International Society of Contact Lens Specialists, a Fellow of American Academy of Optometry and a Fellow of Scleral Lens Education Society.

Describe yourself in three words. Extroverted, energetic, conscientious.

If you could give one piece of advice to incoming/current students, what would it be?

Don’t limit yourself to learning skills; engage your brain and understand why you’re doing what you do. If you study to understand you will get good grades and retain what you learn better than if you simply memorize facts and formulas for tests. A good self-test for you: could you explain what you are studying to someone else?

Why did you become an optometrist?

I originally wanted to be a teacher and practicing optometry has allowed me to teach patients one-on-one and, eventually, teach optometry students. As a teenager, I worked at a summer camp for disadvantaged children and I wanted to continue to do something that involved helping people. There is a lot of opportunity to help people in optometry. I also wanted to practice a profession that would reward me financially for my knowledge and willingness to help people.

Why did you enter the field of education?

As I said earlier, I wanted to be a teacher starting back when I was a high school student. Since becoming an optometrist, I’ve learned that focusing on the needs of the patient in my chair is what makes this work interesting and rewarding, and I wanted to share this philosophy with the students who will be the next generation of optometrists.

If you could choose one superhero power what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to fly. The freedom, the visual perspective, the sensation of moving through space . . . I would love all of it.

Is there anything your students or other faculty may not know about you?

A couple of things: 1) I had never been to an optometrist or had an eye examination until I was a first year optometry student. 2) I have 30 years of military service that included assignments in Hawaii and two foreign countries—three foreign countries if you count California.

What is your greatest accomplishment outside of optometry?

I have several candidates for the answer to this question: I helped raise a son that I am proud of. I was able to make my mother proud of me. I entered graduate school in midlife and got a PhD in Vision Science. I served society and my country with 30 years of military service.