Alumni Focus on Steven Seward (OD/MS’72)
DR. SEWARD'S STORY
Which institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?
I graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, in 1968 with an AB degree in mathematics.
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?
Assistant Dean Herbert Mote called me five days after I mailed my application to the College of Optometry. He said that Ohio State wanted me, if I wanted them. However, don’t choose OSU if I would switch to Indiana, my home state, after getting accepted there. I always appreciated his encouragement and welcome attitude.
Dean Frederick Hebbard arranged a job with the bursar’s office my first year at Ohio State, which was important as I was married and we were expecting our first child. Throughout my time at the College of Optometry, Dr. Hebbard would always encourage me to continue working hard and study as much as possible.
Dr. Richard Hill, Director of Graduate Studies and Clinical Research, invited me to become a participant, with three other classmates, in the OPT 7 Program, which allowed concurrent study toward the OD and MS degrees. The MS degree necessitated a research study and master’s thesis. All four of us did contact lens research under Dr. Hill, who was a magnificent teacher, leader and researcher.
DR. SEWARD'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Tell us about your optometric career.
I originally was in a group practice with my father, George W. Seward, MD (Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist), in my hometown of North Manchester, Indiana. We had separate practices in the same open building, distinguished by our names and degrees. This allowed me to witness my father’s complex cases and seek a second opinion when needed. Interesting to note, my father was amazed at the extent of knowledge taught by Ohio State and sought my opinion, as well.
After my father’s untimely passing from cancer, I continued to practice at the same location and eventually changed the practice name to Seward Eye Care. After 28 years at this location, I was asked to join the Midwest Eye Consults multidisciplinary practice in both North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Midwest Eye Consultants had recently purchased an ophthalmology practice in Fort Wayne and since my Seward Eye Care practice was heavily eye healthcare-oriented, it was expeditious for me to take over that prior ophthalmology practice. I eventually practiced in Fort Wayne for 27 additional years, making 45 wonderful years of optometry practiced.
My practice had a diverse multiracial, multiethnic mix of patients. I provided routine optometric and contact lens care, binocular vision and developmental care, with the majority of my practice day treating patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, retinal and other eye health conditions.
Which optometric issue concerns you the most?
The issue that most concerns me is for new graduates to realize that optometry is a learned profession. This means that one never has enough education and must constantly evolve while optometry evolves. Never practice beyond your training and expertise, but always strive to improve your training and expertise.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I chose optometry because I would spend hours cleaning my father’s practice daily, then sit and watch him practice. In those days, there were not any HIPAA laws, so I spent many hours admiring and learning from my father.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
My advice for OPT-IV students is to determine what you enjoy most within optometry, then seek every available means to become an expert within that area. Still practice comprehensive care, but emphasize your special expertise. I always practiced by a premise my father taught me: “If anyone can provide better care than you, refer your patient to that doctor until you are as good or better.”
DR. SEWARD'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I have two most memorable moments at Ohio State. The first was when Dr. Hebbard asked if I would tutor students in physical and geometrical optics. It was fun and hopefully helpful to those students.
The second was after working at the Ohio State Bursar’s office, Dr. Glenn Fry asked me to program his new computer. It was huge, about the size of a portable refrigerator, and was sitting in an auxiliary room close to Dr. Fry’s isolated third floor research area. Dr. Fry asked if I knew how to program a computer. I asked if it came with a manual. When he said yes, I said yes. In truth, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to program a computer, but with the manual in hand I programmed all of Dr. Fry’s equations. Those programs may have not been the most concise, but they worked, which was exhilarating.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
The Ohio State University and the College of Optometry transformed my life from a boy into a man with a learned profession, which has enriched my life and memories forever.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
I read all of the bulletins and material sent by Ohio State and the College of Optometry. I was blessed to attend the 50th anniversary of the College of Optometry Class of 1972. In addition, I watch all available OSU football games. My first year, 1968-69, the Buckeyes were the National Champions in football.
DR. SEWARD'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?
I am retired and enjoy spending my time with my lovely wife. My lifelong hobby has been golf. I played on my high school and undergraduate college golf team and have always loved golf.
What is a random, fun fact about you?
My brother calls me Rabbit, because I seem to do everything quickly.
If not an optometrist, I would be …
If not an optometrist, I would have enjoyed being an engineer and tried to invent something.