Dr. Harold Solan

Developmental optometry has lost a giant.  Dr. Harold Solan passed away yesterday.  He was an extraordinary man in so many ways.  As a developmental optometrist, he set the bar very high, as a clinician, researcher, scholar, teacher, and mentor.  Dr. Solan made countless presentations at COVD’s annual meetings.  He won both the Getman Award and the Skeffington Award.  Every developmental optometrist in practice brings something that they learned from Dr. Solan to every patient encounter, whether or not they realize this.  He has touched the lives and careers of developmental optometrists all over the world, and through them, he has had a positive impact on more patients than can be counted.

I will write more about Dr. Solan’s work and writings sometime soon.  In the meantime, please leave a comment, tell us how Dr. Solan touched your life as a developmental optometrist.

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  1. Dr. Solan and I both started our careers at SUNY Optometry together. He was lured from private practice to build the Learning Disabilities Unit, and I was a Vision Therapy Resident. We worked together for many years. I learned more from Harold than just how to be a better developmental optometrist. I learned how important it is to contribute to your profession and your community, to use your gifts to reach out. I am sure that I contribute to this blog because of him. Harold was my friend and I miss him.

  2. Thanks for making note of this, Dr. Mozlin. I had the daunting task of being Harold Solan’s nominal boss, as the LDU at SUNY was technically part of the VT Service, and I served as Chief of the VT Service. But we quickly agreed what the “real” relationship would be, and I welcomed the opportunity to have Harold as my mentor. We often had lunch together, brainstormed in his office together, and as an icon in private practice in my county (Bergen, in NJ) he influenced me to open full-time here. We all learned a great deal from Harold during his time at SUNY – it was a very special epoch for the profession at large, for the College, and for those of us fortunate to have been influenced by his razor sharp mind and the energizer bunny researcher that he was. – LJP

  3. Dr. Solan was a great developmental optometrist because he crossed the various disciplines in his understanding of learning difficulties. He wrote and spoke at a high level with educators, speech therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists. His understandings in research set him apart from others. He was a champion for developmental optometry. I will miss him dearly.

  4. In the 1970’s I developed a refractive sequence using time rather than visual acuity as a primary parameter. At the near point I used Hal’s graded sentences and it worked very well. Hal was always a kind gentleman who was intensely interested in furthering the profession. I will miss him and miss the anticipation of reading his research. I hope his family knows Hal helped thousands of patients and doctors and optometry will always be grateful to him.

  5. Such a loss. He was a tireless supporter of vision and it’s implications and impact on lives particularly in children. Let the torch be carried.

  6. Harold was inspiring as a researcher, a clinician, and a human being. One of my favorite memories is Harold, well into his eighties, literally running across a hotel lobby to catch an elevator. He approached everything he did with the same gusto. I will miss his exuberance.

  7. I have known Harold since I was a kid. He influenced my practice of Optometry in more ways than I can count. His body of work is monumental. It should be required reading for ALL Optometry students. He will be sorely missed.

  8. I was privileged to be Harold Solan’s first second generation optometry student. As such, we had a very special relationship. My father was not only his student but also worked for him. Not only did I have the honor of being Harold’s student but I was on faculty with Harold at SUNY until his retirement, He never ceased to amaze me. He was the Energizer Bunny! A prolific author who understood that he had a unique gift to elevate the status of our profession, to scientifically prove the value of developmental optometry, and to educate the public, he published more papers throughout his career than anyone else that I know. He inspired generations of optometrists and motivated his fellow faculty members and developmental optometrists to be the best that we could be. Harold was truly one of a kind. G-d broke the mold when Harold was created. May his memory always be a blessing and may his example be a shining light that inspires all of us to carry on his life’s work, advancing our knowledge about children’s vision and learning, advancing our profession, and educating the public about the importance of developmental optometry. He will be deeply missed.

  9. I had the honor of being Harold Solan’s student as a SUNY VT resident. His greatest gift to me was expecting a lot from me and therefore causing me to expect more from myself. He accomplished amazing things in his life as a clinician, researcher, teacher and friend. His body of work in developmental optometry is large and incredible, but his contribution to developmental optometry far surpasses that since he inspired most of the people around him to be more and do more than we would have without knowing him. Thank you, Harold!

  10. Harold was a friend and a mentor almost from the day I joined the vision therapy faculty at SUNY in 1985. Throughout the years he would energetically share his latest research project or paper with me and I was always amazed at his drive and passion. One of the greatest compliments I ever received was when Harold told me “I don’t know how you do everything you do.” This coming from Harold Solan! Perhaps the most enduring memory I will have of Harold was his single minded devotion to completing whatever it was he was working on. His focus was laser-like, and virtually nothing was going to stop him from achieving his goal. Truly an amazing man.

  11. I hired Harold Solan to direct the Learning Disability Unit at SUNY. He had been an instructor at the Columbia University Optometric Program before that institution closed its program quite suddenly. Early on he had worked with the Optometric Center of New York, the follow on institution which, after a good number of years evolved into SUNY. I knew Harold quite well. The job was really made for him since the LD Unit at SUNY was not directly budgeted as part of the State University, but rather as a service unit. This new endeaver became a springboard of new research for Harold. He actually had the best possible job at SUNY – able to primarily fund his own research. And what a job he did!

    His coming from practice to the University became a new career for him. His work ethic was nonstop and his results have become outstanding. When I offered him the job, he asked for an additional year. I told him that the job was now, not a year hence. He took the position – and I’m glad that he did.

  12. Dr. Solan…was always curious and up for adventure. A couple of years ago when COVD held its meeting in Mexico, my wife and I decided to play a bit of hooky to see some of the local sights. We boarded a bus to take a look at Mexican ruins on the coast. Guess who was also playing hooky? Yes, it was Hal. When we got off the bus, we decided to do our exploring together. Up and down hills and steps we went. Into the sand with the blue waters inches from our toes. Climbing rocks. Joyful in our discoveries. Hal only needed a steady hand from time to time to traverse the terrain, usually supplied by my wife Sylvia. His sense of wonderment, his thirst for adventure and his questioning mind….all there. So was the smile on his face. I will miss that smile.

  13. Dr. Solan’s teaching, writing, and example contributed so much to whatever success I have had in my career (and life), I can’t even begin to explain it here. The elements I can easily identify in this forum are: using standardized, well-normed tests communicates a great deal to other professionals; private practice is the most personal, and therefore effective, way for a healthcare professional to have enormous positive effects on patients’ lives; and coming into every situation with a positive, joyful, energetic outlook is critical to affecting change in yourself and others. It is somewhat embarrassing to me that that last element was the one that took the longest for me to incorporate, but it is probably the most important.

  14. I met Harold when he was still in private practice and I was starting optometry school. He was a young man at that time and the most exuberant practitioner I had ever known. He never changed. His enthusiasm for the profession of optometry and for his work never diminished.

    When you met and talked with Harold, he was never condescending and treated you as if you were the teacher and he was the student. He was always trying to learn the what, why, where and when of everything.

    His patient care was meticulous, complete and comprehensive. He was always willing to try a new test, alter an old one or attempt to design a new one if he couldn’t get the answer he sought. He was always asking questions and trying out new tests to see if they gave the answers he was looking for so he could provide additional help for his patients.

    His research was superb and his results were never questioned for statistical accuracy or for method. If you were doing research and asked fro his help, he was more than willing and asked for nothing in return.

    I would like to express condolences from my wife and I to the Solan family. The profession of optometry has lost a giant and I have lost a good friend.

    Louis Hoffman

  15. I had the privilidge of meeting Dr. Solan during my year as a VT resident at SUNY. Dr. Solan was a giant. His insights in developmental optometry, and perceptual dysfunctions were uncanny to the level of impressive, as was his willingness and drive to impart his knowledge to the future of optometry and optometric education. He will be greatly missed: he was inspirational.

  16. As a SUNY resident in 1983-84 – I spent a full day each week with Harold “learning about learning” disabilities. Harold’s genuine interest in teaching made each of us feel as though we were special to him – which we were. We went on to write a short article together on Visual Perception and Harold would visit me at PCO on some of his trips to see his aunt in Philadelphia. He was a magnificent professional role model and inspiration to each of us in academia and optometric research. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked with him and am proud that he was one of my mentors early in my career. Aside from his professional accomplishments, Harold was an individual who was kind and caring, expressing an interest in his colleagues lives and always speaking affectionately about his wife and family. Even though I was not in touch with him over the last few years, I will always consider him as one of the great influences in my optometric career. My sympathies to his family for their loss.

  17. Remembering Dr. Solan today. What a loss for optometry. He was an exceptional man and teacher.

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