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Stanley A. Klein, PhD
Member, Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame

Stanley A. Klein

Stanley Klein was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science from 1987 until he retired in 2022. Klein’s connection to optometry began at the University of Houston School of Optometry, where he had a faculty appointment from 1981 to 1987. His research was mainly on human vision, but in the early years he explored other items. For example, his first paper was done on bacteriophage at Caltech with Bob Edgar as the main author and with Richard Feynman as a coauthor.

Klein was born in 1940 in the Bronx of New York where he stayed until the age of 9. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1949 due to the doctor’s advice of dealing with his mother’s health. He went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as an undergraduate, and Brandeis University for graduate school in physics. In his senior year at Caltech he started dating Sally, a student at Scripps College, which is about 40 miles from Caltech. Given that Brandeis was far from Scripps, Klein took a leave of absence in his second year and moved back to California for almost a year at the end of which they got married and shortly thereafter they produced two wonderful daughters.

Given that Dennis Levi is also a Hall of Fame inductee, it is worth pointing out that together they have coauthored 69 papers. Another connection between the two Hall of Famers is that both Klein and Levi had nearly identical Guinness World Records for Hyperacuity (less than 1% different). It is amazing how similar the two of them were. They connected when Levi spent about a year at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Center in San Francisco. Klein would participate weekly in their activities. Levi inspired Klein to take a sabbatical at the University of Houston School of Optometry, which eventually extended to seven years. Those “wonderful years” as Klein describes them, allowed him to get a truly wonderful job at UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry.

One of Klein’s favorite papers was the 1985 paper by Klein & Levi “Hyperacuity thresholds of 1 sec: theoretical predictions and empirical validation.” The raw data collected showed the extraordinary similarity of their thresholds. As Levi pointed out in his article, those thresholds were 0.85 seconds of arc. As we pointed out in the Guinness Book of World Records, the thresholds were “1/4 inch at a distance of 1 mile”. Klein says, “the ability of what our eyes can do is quite awesome. Thus it is both wonderful and also full of wonder.”

The amazing aspect is that the 1985 Klein & Levi paper was almost half a lifetime ago. Another extraordinary item is that Klein & Levi are still living about a mile apart and their offices at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry & Vision Science are less than a one minute walk apart. It is wonderfully amazing!

One of the very important items in this history are the DUALITY license plates that have been on Klein’s automobiles since about 1975. That included the time in Houston. The DUALITY license plates have been central to Klein’s thinking since he was young. He is strongly in favor of seeing both sides to a question. A very important example is the science/religion controversy on which Klein has devoted substantial effort.