Alumni Focus on Jack Gardner (BS’70, OD’72)



Chicago, Illinois

Which institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?

Villanova University, BA – Science Major: This was a hybrid of both pre-med and pre-law. It included minors in Philosophy and English.

Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?

BS’70, OD’72

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

Dr. Richard Hill, Dr. John Schoessler and Dr. Patrick Reardon - there were other positive influences, including Dr. Glenn Fry and Dr. Jesse Boyd Eskridge. An excellent faculty.


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

I am a self-employed private practice optometrist with three locations in the Chicago area.Jack Gardner

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

I start by reviewing the upcoming day with key staff members and finding out if we have to contact the surgical center or any patients. Then, I spend time taking care of patients.

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

Two things: 1. The constant turf battle regarding scope of practice; and 2. The commoditization of our services and products.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

I am from an optometric family – my father started our practice in 1938.

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

I hope to have dedicated young ODs working in the practice with their eyes on ownership.

What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?

The version of yourself 10 years from now is begging you to say YES to what the current version of yourself is saying NO to today.


What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?Jack Gardner - 1972

There were great times, great friends and more. A memorable moment? Studying for the National Boards by candlelight due to a power outage while the National Guard was outside having closed down the campus in the spring of 1970.

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

The education and friends have withstood the test of time and the education allowed me to do good work while on the staff of the Illinois College of Optometry.

How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?

I have been a member of the American Academy of Optometry primarily because of the academic focus on the science of physiological optics at The Ohio State University. Like everyone, our time gets stretched thin and we have to prioritize.

What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?

I think all of us were raised with the focus “Treat people the way you want to be treated” but the pandemic has made me flip that to “Treat people the way they want to be treated.” We have to be respectful in wearing masks and gloves especially if they have “at risk” people at home.


What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?

For 30 years I ran at least one or more full marathons per year, including several above the Arctic Circle and one on the side of Mt. Everest. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and also ran a race across the Grand Canyon and back. It has become more difficult to keep up that pace and involvement – so I have a less adventurous life now – but still seeing patients.

What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?

My favorite landmark is The Eye-ffel Tower.

If not an optometrist, I would be …

A front man for a rock band, so I could say in front of 10,000 fans at a concert, “My father forced me to do this - I wanted to be an accountant!”