Dr. Kathy Weise
Director of Pediatric Optometry, UAB School of Optometry
Dr. Kathy Weise is from Denver, Iowa, the mile-wide city. She is the daughter of Ruth Niemann and Coach Larry Niemann. Through her parents, Kathy discovered the infinite joy in helping children and a deep enthusiasm for uplifting others.
While attending Iowa State University, Kathy was inspired to pursue the profession of optometry by her uncle, Dr. Bob Niemann. After graduating from the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, she joined the UAB Optometry faculty and became a Professor of Optometry in 2015. In 2004, Dr. Weise earned her MBA from the UAB School of Business and went on to help develop the nation’s first truly combined degree OD/MBA program in 2016.
Dr. Weise became the UAB Pediatric Optometry Service Director in 2004 and has since helped provide compassionate eye care for well over 50,000 children. Dr. Weise and principal investigator, Dr. Marsh-Tootle, helped conduct the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial, a 14-year, NIH-funded, randomized clinical trial that showed proof of concept that growth of the human eye could be slowed with an optical intervention. Dr. Weise was most recently selected to lead the NIH-funded Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group’s study of myopia and low-dose atropine. In February, 2019, the newly combined and deliberately collaborative team of pediatric optometrists and ophthalmologists at UAB was recognized by PEDIG and the National Eye Institute with the site of the year award.
Locally, Dr. Weise created the mTBEye clinic in collaboration with the Children’s of Alabama Concussion Clinic in 2013. Since then, Kathy created BlazerVision, a collaborative effort between optometry and ophthalmology to support UAB athletes.
Dr. Weise has proudly supported the UAB School of Optometry’s (UABSO) collaborative relationship with Sight Savers America (SSA) since 1997. These efforts include referrals of SSA children to the clinical services arm of the Pediatric Optometry Service of UAB Eye Care, as well as to its NIH research endeavors. This joint collaboration coordinates and provides eye examinations, eyeglasses, specialty glasses, vision therapy, other treatments, and referrals for surgery and other ophthalmological services.
Kathy recently said, “I’m convinced that Sight Savers America’s referral program has helped the UABSO Pediatric Clinic grow by about 400% in student encounters over the last couple decades and about 50% in overall patient census over the last decade. This project provides a great foundation for clinical care experiences for students, but also teaches the student the importance of providing opportunities for good vision care to children of all socioeconomic means.”
Kathy has also made generous donations of her time and capital to help SSA raise funds for children’s eye care and has introduced SSA programs to new partners throughout the United States.
Artist: John Bramblitt
John Bramblitt is an artist living in Denton Texas. His art has been sold in over 120 countries and he has appeared internationally in print, TV and radio. And John is blind.
Prior to his blindness, John studied at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, where he graduated with honors. When he lost the last of his vision in 2001 due to complications with epilepsy and Lyme disease, his hopes of becoming a creative writing teacher were shattered and he sunk into a deep depression. He felt disconnected from family and friends, alienated and alone. But then something amazing happened — he discovered painting. He learned to distinguish between different colored paints by feeling their textures with his fingers. He taught himself how to paint using raised lines to help him find his way around the canvas, and through something called haptic visualization, which enables him to “see” his subjects through touch. He now paints amazingly lifelike portraits of people he’s never seen–including his wife and son.
He currently works as a consultant for museums in developing programs that are designed to include everyone – no matter their ability or disability. While art was always a major part of John’s life, it was not until he lost his sight that he began to paint. According to John, “Everyone has an artist somewhere in them; sometimes they just need a little help letting it out.”