Alumni Focus on James Sheedy (OD'74)



Detroit, Michigan

Were you the first optometrist in your family?


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

OD – 1974

MS – 1974

PhD - 1977

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

I will always value the mentorship of Glenn A Fry, advisor for my PhD and gentleman model.  I also thank professors Richard Hill, Ronald Jones, Vincent King, J. James Saladin, Michael Polasky, H. Richard Blackwell, Frederick Hebbard, and John Schoessler for their many contributions to my career.


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

Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Columbus, Ohio

Clinical Professor and Clinic Administrator, UC Berkeley School of Optometry

Clinical Researcher, Humphrey Instruments, San Leandro, CA

Director Professional Development SOLA Optical, Petaluma, CA

Professor, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Columbus, Ohio

Dean and Professor, Pacific University College of Optometry, Forest Grove, Oregon

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

Optometry has given me the luxury of not having a typical day. Every day has been different, with its own challenges and rewards.

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

The academic scope of optometry is very large, requiring knowledge in both the physical sciences such as optics and the biological sciences such as biology and chemistry. I want optometry to continue to embrace this unique academic position in its development.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

Dumb luck – I needed and had an eye examination at a time I was deciding on further education.

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

I officially retired this past year, but remain concerned and active in the profession. I believe I have talents and insights honed during my career that can still be useful to the profession and, more specifically, to the graduate students with whom I continue to work.

In my next career phase, I want to apply what I know about Vision Science to Visual Arts (painting). Vision scientists know and study vision from the bottom up – EMR absorption by photopigments to retinal and neural architecture as revealed by electrophysiological and psychophysical study.  Artists are like a homunculus viewing vision from the top down – they are concerned with appeal in the signals going to the brain. My goal is to explore and reveal how vision science meets the world of art.

What advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?

Let it be. Be confident that you have a wonderful background and have properly prepared yourself. Remain vigilant and the best door will open for you. You are prepared to walk through it. 


Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?

In 1970, it was closest to my hometown of Detroit. This turned out to be very fortuitous.

What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?

The lifelong friendships made with classmates.

Sitting in lectures in 119 and 33.

My first low vision patient had two prosthetic eyes that he wanted cleaned.  

Intramural sports with classmates. 

Daily life at the Epsilon Psi Epsilon House.

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

“OSU” is a badge I wear proudly in life. Once a Buckeye ... always a Buckeye.

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

At professional optometry meetings, and at least one football game annually.


What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

I have spent my career as a vision scientist. Vision scientists understand the eye and vision from the bottom up: electromagnetic energy, absorption by photopigment, psychophysics, and neural channels. I now work primarily as an artist. Artists view vision from the top down – as if they were a homunculus receiving the neural signals about vision. My goal as an artist is to reveal the connection between vision science and artistry.

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

First concert: The Cream. Most recent: Pink Martini. Most memorable: Tina Turner at the SF Fairmont Venetian Room (1985) – her fist solo concert after splitting with Ike.

I also attended a Cher concert at Nationwide arena. I did not have tickets to the sold-out concert, but was lucky to arrive the ticket office just when a front row seat was released! In the front row, we stood and danced the entire concert! When Cher sang “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, she and I made visual contact and danced together. She and I looked directly at one another as it ended with “Bang-Bang” and we pretended to shoot one another.

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

… an architect. Architecture is a great combination of physical science and aesthetics.