A clinician and a scientist–what’s their connection? Read the history behind this “mixed pair” of COVD attendees!

Dr. Kelly Chajka practices in Liverpool NY.  She has just joined Krzyzak Eyecare and is right now at this very moment preparing to bring vision therapy into this practice.  She and Dr. Michael Krzyzak were spending time (and money) in the exhibit hall when I caught up with them at the 2018 COVD Annual Meeting. The pair was taking advantage of having so many owners of successful vision therapy practices in one place  They were talking to other doctors that have already navigated that process and were intent on collecting ideas and best practices.

Dr. Ben Backus is a vision scientist, and he is a newly-minted FCOVD-A (Academic Fellow of COVD).  Dr. Backus’ interests and expertise have evolved over many years, beginning with research into normal binocular vision and stereopsis.  He then became interested in how the visual system adapts and learns to respond to an ever changing environment;  “perceptual learning” became his mantra.  Finally, when he began to interact more with optometrists in a clinical setting, he began to focus on perceptual learning in patients with strabismus and amblyopia. Dr. Backus recently transitioned from full-time to part-time faculty at SUNY Optometry in order to accept the position of Chief Science Officer at Vivid Vision, Inc. He is super excited to help develop engaging technologies that make use of sound scientific information and clinical wisdom.

Dr. Chajka graduated from SUNY Optometry in 2011. She also earned a Master’s degree in Vision Science.   Guess who served as her advisor when she was working on that Master’s degree? None other than Dr. Ben Backus! Her thesis, “Does stereo acuity effect learning of a new cue that is paired with a disparity signal?” was an exploration of the science of perceptual learning, which is definitely in Dr. Backus’s wheelhouse.  Dr. Chajka then completed SUNY’s Residency in Vision Therapy, the final piece of her SUNY trifecta!

Every April, COVD’s Annual Meeting brings together professionals from every corner of optometry–clinical care, vision science,  technology, and practice management. Great minds do think alike, and collaboration will help reach more patients that need more of what developmental optometry has to offer.