Alumni Focus on Dr. LaMar Zigler (OD/MS’81)
DR. ZIGLER'S STORY
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
I have several mentors from the college and alumni who shaped my future in private practice, in becoming a faculty member, doing research, writing, consulting, and lecturing. They also shaped my involvement in the local zone, OOA, AOA, and the AAO.
Dr. Neal Bailey (BS’47, PhD’54), Dr. Richard Hill, Dr. John Schoessler (BS’65, OD’66, MS’68, PhD’71) made up my Master's committee. Dr. Bailey, with whom I went into practice, prepared me for my career in private practice and mentored me in doing 135 FDA clinical trials and other research. He also encouraged me to lecture and write articles for journals. Drs. Joe Barr (OD’77, MS’79), Tom Quinn (OD’79, MS’81), Mike Polasky (BS’68, OD’69), Arol Augsburger (BS’69, OD/MS’71), and Kevin Alexander (OD’76, MS’77, PhD’79) all shaped my clinical skills. Dr. Joe Benjamin (OD/MS’79, PhD’82) was a good friend in Dr. Hill’s research lab and mentored me there. Dr. Jim Albright (OD’76) and Dr. Dave Dickson got me involved in the local zone and Jim invited me to lecture every year in his practice management class. Dr. Bob Newcomb (OD’71, MPH) and I chaired the two main CE events for the OOA. He chaired the Fall Conference at Salt Fork State Park and later in Huron, and I chaired the Contact Lens Seminar in January at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus for many years. Twenty years ago, Dr. Alexander, who was OOA president, asked me to start a new combined meeting and EastWest Eye Conference was born. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event was started and the infamous "Bad Habits: The Eye Docs of Rock" started playing there after our third year.
DR. ZIGLER'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
Central Ohio Eyecare, self-employed optometrist, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Clinical Associate Professor
Consultant and lecturer for several contact lens manufacturers over the years
EastWest Eye Conference, First Chair of the Conference, 1996
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, 2000
Inducted into the National Academies of Practice, 2004
Chair of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the AOA, 2011-12
Appointed to the Ohio State Board of Optometry by Governor Kasich, 2012-2017
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I am in private practice doing primary care, with emphasis on specialty contact lenses and keratoconus, glaucoma, refractive and cataract surgery co-management, and dry eye treatment.
I start seeing patients starting at 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and then do charts and letters until 6:30 p.m.. I see patients until noon on Friday. Managing the office and the staff happens “on the fly” between patients with staff meetings twice per month. Planning and forecasting for the business and catching up on journals and emails happen over lunch and at home.
My wife Sandy does all the business administration legwork and payroll.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Managed care vision plans and third-party insurances are putting a squeeze on our profits, so we all have to stay vigilant in running our practices efficiently. Also, disruptive online services and products are something we need to confront and continually adjust our strategies to be competitive with them. Survival of private practice takes a united effort by all of us through the AOA and State Associations to continue to evolve and be successful.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I wanted to be in health care, but I also was interested in running my own business. Optometry allowed me to do both of these things. When I researched optometry and the other health professions, it offered a good income and allowed time for family life outside of the practice. Afterward I fell in love with what I can do to improve people’s vision, lives, and health. I would definitely do it again; it’s been a good life.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
Retired but still involved in the profession through the associations. My son, David Zigler (OD'14), will take over the practice.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Keep your options open. The first thing you do out of school may not be your final career path. Enjoy your chosen profession and keep evolving and learning. Don’t become stagnant in your knowledge. Get involved with the college and alumni association in any way that you can and with the AOA and the AAO. Use your career, income and influence to do good things in your community.
DR. ZIGLER'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I loved my class of ’81. We had great class parties, played intramurals, and helped each other with personal and academic issues. Many of us joined EYE and had great times there too. Drs. Craig Liebig (OD’81), Alex Szabo (OD’81), Mark Hagee (OD’81), Gary Contner (OD’81), and I started the Blues Brothers Band for the EYE talent show and EYE had Blues Brothers parties for several years after that. We even returned to play again a couple of times. We did summer picnics, white water rafting on the New River, and traveled to AOSA conventions.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
Because we live in Columbus, the College means even more to Sandy and me than if we had moved away. I have remained involved through teaching and hiring pre-optometry and optometry students to work in my practice. Sandy has known many of the faculty and all of the Deans of the College since my graduation.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
Because I’m on the faculty, I receive emails and posts from the College and Ohio State in general. I also read the Optometry and university alumni magazines. Having student externs in my practice and doing contact lens workshops for the third-year students keeps me up to date. Also, I interact with faculty who are friends of mine and keep updated with the college that way. I lecture periodically for the Optometric Educators by invitation from Dr. Mike Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92). Many of the faculty attend our local Zone 12 meetings and several are on the EastWest education committee with me. Attending alumni weekends at the college is great too.
DR. ZIGLER'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
Anything outdoors, hiking, boating, snow skiing, traveling, cruises, landscaping my yard. We also are season ticket holders for Ohio State football and basketball. We go to many bowl games and we have gone on several Buckeye Cruise for Cancer trips. Sandy and I enjoy being with and vacationing with our growing family of two grandchildren and another one on the way! We are very fortunate that our three children remained in Columbus after college. All three of them got married within 20 months!
Most of my volunteer work has been with the American and Ohio Optometric Associations and some with my church and Upper Arlington Boosters and Civic Associations in the past. My wife Sandy has been the super volunteer her whole life for many service boards in the Columbus community and our church and preschool. Now she is busy helping with the grandchildren and loving it.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
The first concert was Seals and Crofts in the early 70’s.
For the latest concerts I had to see the rock legends before they retire, so the family all went to the Rolling Stones in Ohio Stadium, Paul McCartney at Nationwide Arena and the Who.
What are you looking forward to the most this summer?
Realxing and enjoying the warm weather and long summer days and evenings. The summer is more laid back and much less hectic because there are very few meetings and commitments. We love to enjoy our back yard and screened in porch on summer evenings.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I wish I had the power to help the world be a better place. To help people live in peace with their families and in the world without hatred or violence. To eliminate pollution and clean up our environment so everyone and our children could enjoy the planet and live happier and healthier.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
I would like to work outdoors in a national park or something similar.