About a year ago, Velma Dobson made it clear to close colleagues that she would soon be retiring from her career studying human visual development. Given Velma’s tremendous contributions to the field and her impact on so many scientists in the field, her close colleagues began thinking along the lines of a traditional “festschrift” meeting. But Velma showed obvious enthusiasm for an alternate idea, and this feature issue was born. As one of our Guest Editors, Rowan Candy, said in describing this outcome, “Velma has escaped the spotlight on the ‘stage’ but instead has stepped up to the challenge of assembling a single Feature Issue of Optometry and Vision Science on infant and Child Research.”
In fact, Velma has not really escaped that “stage” as she may have intended or wanted. Her leadership is obvious from this classic collection of reviews and original research articles that I believe will impact the infant and child vision research field for many years to come.
It is with pleasure that Optometry and Vision Science pays tribute to Velma and dedicates this June 2009 feature issue (“Infant/Child Vision Research: Present Status and Future Directions”) to her in recognition of the outstanding research, mentoring and collaborative contributions she has made in this arena over many years.
I asked Velma to trace her own career path for our readers, by way of introduction to this dedicated feature issue. It follows as our first Guest Editorial. As you can judge from her own words, Velma’s hope is that this issue will stand as a tool to educate and motivate new scientists who are excited about understanding visual development and helping young patients.
Velma has been involved in a number of the key developments in the field driven by two enduring questions.
- What do young infants and children see?
- How does visual experience impact the development of the visual system and how can we promote normal visual experience for all young children?
Early in her career, she asked fundamental questions about the development of vision using electrophysiological techniques and then moved into psychophysical assessment of visual performance of infants. Later, she moved into the clinical application of these techniques—assessing infants’ visual acuity and visual fields, in particular. She is a fine example of a scientist who has taken a fundamental basic question and translated it all the way into clinical application in large-scale clinical trials.
Velma’s students, colleagues, collaborators, and professional researchers are many. In this feature issue, she has called on five of them to assist as Guest Editors. Velma and I thank them for their dedication, hard work, and wise counsel on the many submitted manuscripts. It is obvious to me that she gained this impressive support through her own standing and respect in this field and through the many warm professional friendships she has made on her career journey. In fact, the feature issue includes 16 invited reviews from colleagues who themselves have made clear leadership impact on this research field.
The Guest Editors each bring with them a wealth of experience and fine credentials for this task. Rowan Candy, OD, PhD, is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at Indiana University School of Optometry where she also serves as Associate Dean for Research. Her research focuses on studies of normal and abnormal visual development in human infants.
E. Eugenie (“Genie”) Hartmann, PhD, has appointments as Professor of Optometry and Vision Sciences and Director of Clinical Research in the School of Optometry; Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Scientist, Vision Science Research Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Luisa Mayer, PhD, is Associate Professor, New England College of Optometry, Clinical Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and Research Associate in Ophthalmology, Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA.
Joe Miller, MD, is Professor in three different departments and Schools (ophthalmology, optical sciences, and public health) at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where he serves as Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. He is a close collaborator with Velma, in their numerous important studies of the vision and refractive error of children in Native American populations in the Southwest of the United States (Velma is a professor of psychology, ophthalmology, and vision science and psychology, as well as the Director of the Infant Vision Testing Lab).
Graham Quinn, MD, is Professor of Ophthalmology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology.
The Editorial Board of Optometry and Vision Science is very proud to dedicate this issue to Velma and appreciates being able to present the range of reviews and original articles that so nicely span many of the areas in which Velma has contributed in her impressive research career.
Anthony J. Adams
Berkeley, California© 2009 American Academy of Optometry