Alumni Focus on Aaron Zimmerman (OD'06)

DR. ZIMMERMAN'S STORY

Hometown

Fremont, Ohio

Which degrees did you earn at Ohio State?

2002 – BS in Biology 
2006 – OD 
2008 – Master’s in Vision Science

Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?

I would say the four most influential people for my career have been:

Mike Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92), Nick Fogt (OD/MS’92, PhD’96), Greg Good (OD’75, MS’79, PhD’81), and Nicky Lai (OD/MS’03).

That being said, everyone who taught me, many of whom are now my colleagues, were excellent teachers and have been great colleagues. One of the great things in our profession is how small it is, and how well connected people are. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are many other individuals out there that have had a positive influence on my career and I look forward to working with them and other individuals I have yet to meet or work with.

DR. ZIMMERMAN'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY

Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.

The Ohio State University College of Optometry - Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry (Chief, Student Health Optometry Services) Optique Family Vision Care, Washington Court House, Ohio (1 day per week, for last 2.5 years)

Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.

Being at the College, each day of my week is different. I have administrative responsibilities, clinical teaching responsibilities, didactic teaching responsibilities, work on various research projects, and serve on various committees. I may end up working in any of these categories at any moment during the week, including days I am scheduled to provide nothing but patient care.

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

I would like to make sure that people have access to eye care who need it, especially children. I always feel good, because I helped the patient, but sad at the same time whenever I see a young patient with high refractive error that could have been corrected years earlier. Adults sometimes have real, or perceived barriers that prevent them from seeking care until sometimes too late as evidenced by a patient that I recently saw that had proliferative diabetic retinopathy (age 47) and had not been seeing well for months. He said he didn’t have insurance so he didn’t come in. Now he will likely have permanent vision loss going forward.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

There are three reasons:

  1. I grew up a big fan of Notre Dame. My parents took me to a game when I was 9. It was neat, but I told them that the field was too far away and I could not see it. They took me to the optometrist shortly after that and I received my first pair of glasses. My uncle took me to a game the next season. I had my spectacles, so I could see! It was a completely different experience. For anyone worried out there, my college sports allegiance is the Buckeyes.
  2. The second reason was my brother. I was 12 and he was 9. He woke up one summer morning and told my parents that he suddenly could not see. He went to the optometrist and then was immediately referred to the local ophthalmologist, and ultimately up to St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo. He needed two lumbar punctures and many other tests. I was too young to understand what was ultimately diagnosed. My parents remembered the term pseudotumor, but I am not fully convinced that was the actual diagnosis. His vision recovered and he has had no long term health or vision deficits. I was intrigued that the eye could go from seeing, to non-seeing, back to seeing. I wanted to know how that could happen.
  3. I also really liked my optometrist, Walter “Bud” Oxley (OD’72). Optometry seemed like a great profession.

Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?

I would like to become a Professor of Clinical Optometry at the College. I would like to continue working with the Contact Lens Assessment in Youth (CLAY) study group in addition to working on research projects at the College. I hope to become more involved with the American Academy of Optometry. Overall, I want to make sure that I continue to improve as an instructor and practitioner – we need to strive for life-long learning and constant improvement in our abilities.

What is one piece of advice you can give an OPT IV student as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric career?

Make sure you explore the options available to you. I am not sure every student has a full understanding of what their options are. Talk to people in various types of practice, in academia, and industry so that you are better informed about the countless types of jobs out there that optometrists are qualified to do. Also, do not limit yourself geographically or professionally.

DR. ZIMMERMAN'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE

What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?

I met my wife, Amanda, the summer between undergrad and optometry school. She graduated in 2002 as well and she was in her Master’s program until 2004. I proposed to her on the Oval near University Hall in 2005 and we were married in 2006.

I am big college football fan, and there have been many very exciting games that I have been fortunate enough to attend. I took my oldest son, Clayton, to the Michigan game last year. That game was incredible and it was great to share that with him.

Our second son, Leo, was born at Ohio State.

Getting into the College of Optometry. I only applied here – not sure what I would have done if I would not have been accepted. I wanted to go to Ohio State.

What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?

I have three degrees from here and my wife has two. My brother, my sister, my sister-in law, and both my in-laws have degrees from OSU. The university has played a significant role in my family’s and extended family’s lives.

Since I was a student here for many years, sometimes when I give a lecture or a midterm, I think to myself, I cannot believe that I am on the other side as an instructor at one of the best colleges of optometry in the country. When I walk across campus, which I have to do multiple times per week when working at the Student Health Center, I look at all the students and how the campus has grown/changed and think how special it is to be a part of this great place. My son Clayton also likes to go to football games – see above.

How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry as an alumnus?

It is fairly easy to stay connected with the College since I work in the building. I am currently the chair of the continuing education committee and that keeps me engaged with many of our alumni. Any time I go to a national meeting, I always try to attend the college alumni receptions.

DR. ZIMMERMAN'S FUN FACTS

What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

I like to play golf, cycle, and spend time with my kids – which usually involves either golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, or football or some hybrid game we create in the backyard. We are Cleveland sports fans, though it is much easier to be an Indians and Cavs fan at the moment. I volunteer at my church and help coach baseball, basketball, and football. If I lived closer to the mountains (ie out west) I would regularly hike, camp, and explore the National Parks. We have been lucky to explore much of Utah, Arizona, and southwest Colorado, but there is so much more to see. I would like to Scuba dive near the Great Barrier Reef someday.

What was the first concert that you attended / most recent? 

My high school friends and I attended some random festival in Toledo when the band War was playing. The only song I knew then and the only song from them I know now is “Low Rider.” My last two concerts were both in the Shoe, Rolling Stones, and this year's country superfest with Zac Brown Band as the feature group. The Rolling Stones were amazing. Fun fact, I probably have attended less than 10 concerts in my life.

What is your favorite summer time activity?

I suppose golf. I wish I could play more.

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

An engineer.