Dawn DeCarlo, OD, PhD

Director, UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation

Dr. DeCarlo received her Doctor of Optometry and Master of Science degrees from the UAB School of Optometry in 1992.  She earned her MSPH in 2012 and her PhD in Vision Science in 2020, also from UAB.  She completed residency training in vision rehabilitation at the Chicago West Side VA Medical Center and the Hines Central Blind Rehabilitation Center in 1993.  She served as faculty at the UAB School of Optometry until 2001 and then at Nova Southeastern College of Optometry until 2005. 

Since 2005, she has been a member of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and Director of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation.  She is a Diplomate of the Low Vision Section of the American Academy of Optometry.  Her current research is funded by the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research and focuses on reading and pediatric vision impairment.

Dr. DeCarlo and Sight Savers America (SSA) have a long-term partnership that provides low vision evaluations and life-changing high-tech vision aids for Alabama children and adults with low vision. This partnership has eliminated the backlogged need for visual assistive technology for Alabama children and maintains this success each year. Dr. DeCarlo has also played an important role in helping SSA develop its Low Vision Program into a national model. 

Dawn has stated, “If I didn’t have Sight Savers around to refer these children to, I think I would have a heart-wrenching career. It would be so hard to know that there were things that could help these children compete with their fully sighted peers and succeed, but I couldn’t give them. How do you see patients every day, if you can’t do that?”


Artist:  Robert Steinem

Robert Steinem’s artwork has been a process of discovery. Drawing since early childhood, he began painting as a teenager. His work then was influenced by the surrealists, particularly de Chirico and Magritte. However, after a service connected injury in the Marines, Steinem quit painting for twenty years… yet the thought of painting kept nagging at him. Finally, instead of being limited by his legal blindness, he found a way to work through those limitations. An ophthalmologist friend designed special glasses, and Steinem reconstructed his easel so it was strong enough to stand on. His detail work requires an almost “nose to canvas” approach.

Although his academic resume reflects an early interest in the written word, and in 1980 he qualified as a poet to be listed in the Directory of American Fiction Writers and Poets, since the mid-1990’s Steinem has concentrated entirely on his painting career. Since he’s completely self-taught, and approached painting with a poet’s sensibilities, he knew he could find the surreal and abstract subjects he sought in water and glass with their slightly warped visions of our world.

Steinem’s paintings tend to be eclectic, yet he paints mainly in three distinct subject styles – Architectural, Snow Scenes, and a collection of nature and water images called Reflected Light. After a successful show several years ago in Washington, D.C., his work has entered many private and public collections. Three of Steinem’s National Cathedral paintings were selected by the Cathedral’s Museum Store to be sold as limited edition prints. One of his snow paintings was selected by the Christopher Reeve Foundation for their 2005 calendar, with a print run of 3 million.

Steinem has had a number of solo and group shows. Recently one of his canal reflection paintings was juried into a group show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He continues to produce work that is refreshingly new and captivating, with the unerring ability to evoke the mood of a scene, whether the subject is an urban landscape, or the vibrant transparency of an isolated country pond. His home and studio are in rural Massachusetts at the foothills of the Green Mountains, where he lives with his wife Kathy, a college dance instructor who was a principal dancer with the Rhode Island Ballet. He also spends part of each year in Washington, D.C., and in coastal South Carolina.