UMSL Graduate Achieves Prominence in Specialty Contact Lenses
One of the many rewards of selecting optometry as a career is the opportunity to, not only help improve the life of other people, but if you so desire you can also specialize in that specific area you become passionate about during your optometric training. Among the many opportunities provided through the UMSL externship program is the specialty contact lens rotation in Cleveland, OH, with a world renowned cornea and contact lens leader. Imagine choosing such an option and then achieving great prominence as a clinician, lecturer, and author, notably in the area of contact lens correction of the irregular cornea. Meet Ann Laurenzi Jones, OD (‘98)
“Before I was ever in Optometry school I had a family member with keratoconus. I witnessed first-hand how people struggle with the disease. Truly, contact lenses can be a tremendous help visually,” commented Jones. Contact lenses can also be the source of pain and complications if they are not fitted properly. “When I was in my contact lens classes and clinics I always had in the back of my mind my family member’s struggles,” she said. She wanted to be able to offer the best care and support in and around contact lenses that she could. As she recalls, “I am so grateful for the education I received and the wonderful role models: My professors Ed Bennett and Vinita Henry, Loretta Szczotka-Flynn ("The" specialty contact lens fitter with whom I performed a clinical rotation), and Jeff Johnson who was our resident at the time I went though school.”
Dr. Jones credits the College of Optometry and her classmates for preparing her to pursue her dream of a specialty contact lens practice. “As a native of Ohio, my undergraduate institution was The Ohio State University and it was not unusual to have 600 or 700 students in one class, so to be in a class of 39 students was amazing,” comments Jones. Her classmates (now colleagues) were also exceptional and were a diverse class. Everyone worked hard and supported each other to do their best, whether it was sharing notes from a missed class or getting a group together to study for a test. Jones commented, “I felt as if our class was inclusive not exclusive. And the academic faculty at UMSL were tremendous; so many great role models who worked selflessly for the students and our profession in general, Larry Davis, Ed Bennett, and Jeff Weaver were our professors but also were active at national level on behalf of Optometry.”
Her career has been very self-satisfying and she became a nationally recognized specialists in her field. She gained her fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry and also serves as an advisory board member of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute (GPLI). Jones loves the diversity of her various professional responsibilities, “I worked at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute for 10 years. Half of my time I had a specialty contact lens clinic and half of the time I co-managed refractive surgery patients. It was a great balance and I had a lot of diversity in my patients” she said. She has traveled for the clinic to see patients in Aubu Dabi and Dubai. She was also part of the sports medicine team, which at the time the clinic saw most of the professional sports teams in the Cleveland area. In 2009 she moved to Chicago and worked part-time at Northshore University Health Systems Eye and Vision, where she primarily saw contact lens patients.
Dr. Jones and her husband Greg have a six-year-old son, Hunter as well as two step-daughters at very prestigious institutions (Brown University and Emory University). Known for their philanthropic efforts, the Jones’ have supported the Accelerate Institute which is education and support training for Principles, the Navy Seal Foundation, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, the Lyric Opera, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Notebart Nature Museum. She and her husband’s generosity to their alma mater has been nothing short of remarkable and appreciated. This has included an American Optometric Foundation President’s Circle scholarship in the name of a College of Optometry faculty member and, most recently, becoming one of only four alumni so far to sponsor an examination lane at the new Patient Care Center. Dr. Ann Laurenzi Jones, is someone who has achieved great prominence from her passion and clinical ability in specialty contact lenses while always remembering the institution that helped her pursue her dream.