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Winter 2022



Nora Matland

This year, we wanted to do something special to celebrate 150 years. So the communications team set out to put together four patient stories. Our patient stories stand on their own. You can access each of them by going to our YouTube channel.
Below are our own reflections of the time we spent with patients. And a small thank you to the patients who volunteered to make this possible.

Patients are the reason our doctors show up every single day. They're the reason we're all here. During this momentous year, we wanted to take a step back to remind ourselves just how important they are. 

As communications professionals, we don't often have the opportunity to interact with patients. Out of respect for their privacy, much of our focus is on the stories of our faculty and students.

But ultimately, in our 150th year, I knew we needed to give patients a chance to tell their own story. What an emotional ride it has been.

As we set out to create a video series of patient stories to celebrate our 150th anniversary, I’m not sure we knew how impactful their stories would be.

There are so many things that are left on the cutting board whenever you have 4 hours of interviews but only 5 minutes to tell each patient's story.  The interview videos will be on our public channels, but some parts of the stories seemed too sacred for that medium. 

In this magazine, and for our alumni, we can recognize those moments that brought us to a greater understanding of what optometrists do every day, like the ink pens the Low Vision Unit gave Ms. Moore which allowed her to write poetry to her son. "I don't know if I have much I can leave behind. These poems are my legacy to him." And as we walked out the door, the last thing she said to us was, “There's nothing I'm prouder of than raising him to be the man he is today.” We didn't get to add the pictures of her brother, mother, her father and so many other relatives wearing IEI glasses.



The ink pens the Low Vision Unit gave Mrs. Moore allowed her to write poetry to her son.


After our interview, they served us zucchini cake to welcome us into their house.

We didn't add that when we visited the McWrights, Mr. McWright had recently gone through surgery. Even so, they still wanted to share their story. We interviewed them in a house that had been owned by three generations of McWrights. We didn't get to share their story about honeymooning at Niagara Falls, or that after our interview, they served us zucchini cake to welcome us into their house. We didn't get to share just how much of a fight it was to get Mr. McWright to the IEI. In the end, that visit saved his eyesight. We heard how hard it was to commute to the suburbs to see her doctor as a glaucoma patient. It's a big reason why her pressure was so high when she finally arrived at the IEI. Again and again, she thanked us for being in her community. Again and again, she let us know how much happier she was being a patient at the IEI. 

We tried to capture Mr. Jeffrey Platt's frustration and anger, but being in the room with him, it was palpable. We couldn't include the list of doctors, the hours and hours spent in waiting rooms – all done in the hope of improving his eyesight. We couldn't include the miles Mrs. Platt had to drive in search of a cure. The names, the places, always moving further and further from his doctor in Michigan all the way to Chicago, just to finally find some relief. To share his story with us he drove all the way from Michigan.


Ms. Surpris, is in fact not only a diabetes patient but also a glaucoma patient. We weren't able to touch on that either. There was an entire interview with her glaucoma doctor that we weren't able to add due to time constraints. In every story there was so much respect and appreciation for the IEI doctors. Having the IEI as a constant in each of these patients' lives has made a world of difference. 

More happily, you also didn't catch us hauling equipment up four flights of stairs. You didn't have to endure the nasty glares our Uber drivers gave us when we pulled out a trolley load full of equipment and tried to finagle said equipment into their cars without scratching anything. We explored neighborhoods we'd never seen before, and we learned a little more about what it means to be from Chicago.

I learned about the South Side from the McWrights and Ms. Moore. From Ms. Surpris, I learned the importance of a yearly eye exam. I learned about the horrors and trials of double vision, and how hard recovery is after surgery from Mr. Jeffrey Platt. And from all of them, I learned what an essential role ICO plays in building a healthier and happier community.

I personally can't thank them enough for letting us bring you their stories.

Between our commutes to and from work, our day-to-day routines, or perhaps a run-in with a frustrated patient, I think we can sometimes lose "our why." When you get lost in daily minutiae, you sometimes forget what an impact you are having. My hope is that these interviews will remind you of how important your work is. 

It was an honor to work on this project, and I'm proud to share it with you.



To share his story with us he drove all the way from Michigan.
There was an entire interview with her glaucoma doctor that we weren't able to add due to time constraints. 
Getting to know our patients

In 2014 the ICO communications team visited patients Geraldine “Gerri” Norington, Karen Hennesy, George Martinez, and Joyce Smith. Their incredible stories can be seen on ICO's YouTube channel. 

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