Ask Dr. Carol Cressman (OD '79) why she became an optometrist and the answer is simple: “I couldn’t see.”
Optometry has helped Carol see, both literally and figuratively. As a child, an optometrist corrected her vison so she could see the blackboard. As a teen, an optometrist showed her how the profession could allow her to build a satisfying career while serving her community.
Forty years later, Carol continues to serve. She is the community chair of the Seeing Beyond 2020 campaign to create the Waterloo Eye Institute, aimed at meeting the eye and vision care needs of people in Waterloo-Wellington Region.
A one-stop centre for eye and vision care
The Waterloo Eye Institute is an ambitious $35 million initiative that will allow the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science to create a comprehensive, one-stop centre for eye and vision care. It will help to bridge the gaps between health care providers and increase patient access to ophthalmological care and services such as vision therapy, treatment of diseases like dry eye, and surgery.
By promoting collaboration between health care professionals, the Institute will provide seamless care – from wellness to surgery to rehabilitation – for patients of all ages. It will allow them to get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Carol believes so strongly in the many benefits of the Waterloo Eye Institute, that she has made a generous pledge of $500,000 to inspire others to support the campaign.
"It's time to pay it forward"
But her donation serves two other purposes as well. It’s a gift in memory of her late husband, Waterloo Optometry classmate Dr. Peter Foster, who passed away suddenly in 2001. And it’s a gift given with gratitude to the community, the profession and her patients who supported her through the challenges of widowhood and solo parenting three young children.
“So many people were there for me through that difficult time. That’s why it’s important to me to give back by supporting eye and vision health in our community and the advancement of my profession. It’s time to pay it forward. It’s the cycle of giving,” she says.
“We are fortunate to have a centre of excellence like the School of Optometry & Vision Science in our community. But there is more we can do. We need the Waterloo Eye Institute.”
“Seeing Beyond 2020 embraces the importance of vision to our quality of life,” she says. “It will bring us together as a community to help people see.”