Dr. Wid Bleything graduated from the Pacific University College of Optometry in 1952, and then spent another 2 years there working on a Master’s degree. For 6 years, he was able to attend the Northwest Congress of Optometry, where Dr. A.M. Skeffington was always the featured speaker.
One of Dr. Bleything’s mentors was Dr. Harold Haines who had access to Skeffington’s “inner circle.” Dr. Bleything would get dragged along, not only to the lectures, but to the conversations among the prestigious doctors that always surrounded “Skeff” (as he was known).
Dr. Bleything described Skeff as a very serious, intellectually gifted man. He was always the last speaker, and never used any notes. His lectures were very theoretical which left many people in the dust, including Dr. Bleything!
Asked if he ever understood what Skeffington was talking about, Dr. Bleything replied, “Well, not really. At least not until many years later!” It took Dr. Bleything many years of clinical practice before everything started to fall into place. Now with more research and a better understanding of neuroscience, Skeffington’s theoretical constructs, especially the Four Circles, have become much more meaningful to Dr. Bleything.
Dr. Bleything credits Dr. Skeffington with moving the profession of optometry forward by educating optometrists to think beyond refractions. The future began when he put our optometric feet firmly on the ground and began to reach out to other professionals to search for questions even before the answers. Today developmental optometry flourishes in collaborative environments, where it is understood that “vision is more than 20/20.”
COVD’s 2018 Annual Meeting was a shining example of Skeffington’s vision of education. There were speakers from optometry and beyond, in big lecture halls as well as many “inner circles” and conversations. Embracing education in all its forms is sure to keep developmental optometry moving forward. Thank you Dr. Wid Bleything for sitting down with me and for your many years as an optometric educator.