(L to R) Drs. Jim Newman, Betty Harville, Glen Steele, Billy Cochran (SCO president emeritus).

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—After 53 years of service as a faculty member and pediatric vision provider, Glen “Bubba” Steele, OD, has retired from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. SCO recently bid farewell to its longest-serving faculty member in a campus-wide event with current and past students and colleagues. Steele, who is also an SCO alumnus, introduced “just look retinoscopy,” a technique commonly used by practitioners to gauge visual development in children who otherwise cannot articulate how well they see.

He’s most notably known for his contributions to InfantSEE, the national public health program to bring free vision assessments to babies aged six months to 12 months, for which former President Jimmy Carter advocated.

“Dr. Steele leaves behind an indelible mark on the optometry profession as a whole, most notably in the area of pediatric optometry,” said Lewis Reich, OD, president of SCO.

 Dr. James Venable giving award to Dr. Glen Steele for his years of service to Southern College of Optometry.
“Throughout his tenure, he taught more than 6,000 students, who today are represented in every corner of the optometric world. They are advocates, educators and practicing doctors of optometry. He has shared his passion for pediatric optometry with many more around the world, a legacy that will benefit patients for years to come.”

In the early stages of his career, Steele focused on vision therapy, primarily with children. He thrived on teaching his students how the simplest optometric technique could make the biggest impact on a young life. Since InfantSEE’s launch in 2005, more than 150,000 babies have received free comprehensive eye and vision assessments through the program.

“I’ve always been a big kid,” Steele said. “There’s a kid in all of us, and working with children just lets that come out. Pediatric optometry requires a different attitude and special level of care, and I tried to demonstrate that to my students so they carry that attitude with them. That is what I see as my best life’s work.”

Steele’s contributions to the field have not gone unnoticed. In 2019, the American Optometric Association Foundation inducted him into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. Last year, he was also inducted into the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association’s Hall of Fame, which honors outstanding alumni of independent higher education institutions in Tennessee and recognizes their contributions to their fields of practice.

Additionally, he received the President’s Award from the AOA and the American Foundation for Vision Awareness; the Optometrist of the Year from the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians; the Lifetime of Service Award from Prevent Blindness Tennessee; the William Feinbloom Award from the American Academy of Optometry; the G.N. Getman Award from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development; SCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Top 10 Optometrists of the Decade distinction by Optometric Management magazine, among many others.

SCO is currently accepting donations in Steele’s honor. Benefactors can contribute at sco.edu/steele.