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Joan A Stelmack, OD, MPH, FAAO

Former Supervisor, Low Vision Optometry


Title:  Former Supervisor, Low Vision Optometry

Hospital Appointment:  1984



Academic Background:

B.A., 1970  Connecticut College

O.D., 1977 Illinois College of Optometry

Certificate Public Administration, 1993  University  of Illinois at Chicago

MPH, 2004 Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Joan Stelmack graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry  in 1977. After serving as a  consultant to Wesley-Jessen Corporation, and starting a solo private practice, she was recruited  (1984) to develop low vision clinical, education and research  programs at the Hines VA Blind Rehabilitation Center. She initiated a combined Low Vision/Ocular Disease Residency Program  with faculty at Jesse Brown VAMC in 1985. She continues to serve as Co-Director of the Optometry Residency Program .  In 1999, she started a low vision rotation for students from Illinois College of Optometry. She holds faculty appointments at the Department Of Ophthalmology  and Visual Science, University Of Illinois School of Medicine (1996) as well as the Illinois College of Optometry (1985). She  is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Diplomate in the Academy’s Public Health Section, and a Distinguished Scholar in the National Academy of Practice in Optometry. She received the William Feinbloom Award from the American Academy of Optometry (2010), The Vision Care Award from the Low Vision Section, American Optometric Association (2004),  and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research and Literature in Low Vision (2008) from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.


She has  collaborated on 23 funded research studies funded by VA, NIH and private foundations. In the role of  principal research investigator, she has received over  4 million dollars in research funding.  Included are two multicenter clinical trials to establish the effectiveness of low vision service delivery. She has authored over 47 journal articles and presented over 155 scientific papers, posters and lectures.   She is actively involved in professional organizations.  Current appointments include  the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Merit Review Research Panel and  the  Advisory Committee for the National Eye institute Eye Heath Education Program.   As a volunteer for the American Optometric  Association, she serves on the  Council on Research ( 1996-present)  and served on the Low Vision Section Council  (1989-1999). She has been appointed to leadership positions  in the American Public Health Association including Science Board (2007-212), Joint Policy Committee (2008-2012) and Education Board ( 2012 to present) and elected to leadership positions within the Vision Care Section. She also served on  the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Optometry Board of Directors (1988-1993). On  a part-time basis, she serves as Director, Low Vision Service  at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and contributes to ophthalmology resident education and research.

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