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Global Expert in Optical Quality of the Human Eye Receives Carel C. Koch Award

By: Melissa Mares Posted On: 10/01/2020


Prof. Raymond A. Applegate

Internationally renowned expert in optical quality of the human eye, Prof. Raymond A. Applegate, OD, PhD, FAAO, FOSA, FARVO and Borish Chair of Optometry at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) is the recipient of the 2020 Carel C. Koch Memorial Award from the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). Established in 1974, the Carel Koch Memorial Medal Award is awarded to a person who has made outstanding contributions to the enhancement and development of relationships between optometry and other professions.

“I was surprised by this esteemed award. It is an honor to be nominated, let alone win. I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to those who thought to nominate me and to the Awards Committee for selecting me as this year’s recipient,” said Prof. Applegate.

Dr. Applegate noted that few, if any, of his accomplishments would have been possible without the unconditional love of his Mom and Dad (Ed and Betty Applegate both deceased), his wife Rachel and their children, Aaron, Ryan, Camille and Olivia, the support of his mentors (especially Dr. Tony Adams) as well as all the contributions made by fellow colleagues and graduate students. He summarized his feelings by saying, “The award is as much for each of them as it is for me.”

Prof. Applegate is the first faculty member from UHCO to receive the Carel C. Koch Memorial Award. Last year, he received the Academy’s most prestigious research award, the Charles F. Prentice Medal Award and became one of just three faculty members at UHCO who were previous recipients. The Prentice Medal recognizes individuals for their career-long record of advancement of knowledge in vision science.

For over three decades, Prof. Applegate has been recognized as a global leader in the optical performance of both the normal eye and eyes suffering from elevated levels of optical distortion. He was a pioneer in bringing to the forefront the consequences of these conditions and the need to improve outcomes to clinicians, industry and the field of vision science. A little over twenty years ago, he helped co-found The Wavefront Congress as it is commonly referred to. Arguably, the premier scientific meeting related to the aberration of the human eye and the science of wavefront sensing bringing leading clinicians, basic scientists and industry together to raise the bar collectively. His contributions have led to nearly one hundred and fifty peer-reviewed journal articles.

Prof. Applegate has made enormous contributions to improving the relationship between optometry and ophthalmology. His expertise in the optics of the eye and visual performance has significantly influenced the development of laser refractive surgery and treatment of the highly aberrated eye with wavefront-guided corrections. He co-edited the first book on wavefront-guided corrections entitled Customized Refractive Correction: The Quest for Super Vision with both basic scientists and clinicians contributing.

Recently Dr. Applegate, along with Lan Chi Nguyen (BS, MBA, FAAO), Dr. Jason Marsack and Dr. Matt Kauffman, have transitioned wavefront-guided scleral lenses from the laboratory setting to The Cornea and Contact Lens Service (CCLS) at The University of Houston’s University Eye Institute. In this clinical setting, they (along with the CCLS faculty doctors and staff) help patients whose optical needs are not satisfactorily met with conventional clinical corrections.

Prof. Applegate received his Bachelor of Arts (1971), Doctor of Optometry (1975) and Master of Science in Physiological Optics (1976) degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington. Shortly thereafter, he practiced optometry in Galesburg, Illinois before continuing his graduate education, receiving his PhD (1983) in Physiological Optics at the University of California, Berkeley. From UC Berkeley he joined the faculty of the University of Missouri St. Louis School of Optometry where he served as an Assistant Professor of Optometry. In January, 1988 he joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio where he rose through the faculty ranks quickly to become a tenured Professor of Ophthalmology in 1993.

In 2002, Prof. Applegate joined UHCO to become the first Borish Chair in Optometry. He has served as a feature editor of the Journal of the Optical Society of America –A, Applied Optics, and Optometry and Vision Science on several occasions. Dr. Applegate has served on the editorial board of the journal of Optometry and Vision Science, the editorial board of the Journal of Refractive Surgery, the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and is currently serving on the board of Clinical and Experimental Optometry. He has served the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology on the Annual Program Committee (chair for the Visual Science Section), the Board of Trustees representing the Visual Science Section and as Vice President of the Association. He is a consultant and international lecturer whose NIH funded research interests center on the optics of the eye and early ocular disease detection, treatment, and prevention.