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Faculty Story: Carl Jacobsen

Dr. Jacobsen

Dr. Carl Jacobsen

Chief, Ocular Disease Clinic
University of California, Berkeley

As chief of ocular disease for the most comprehensive and cutting-edge O.D. program in the nation, Carl Jacobsen has built a robust training program where each student sees as many as 12 patients a day and manages a complex variety of ocular diseases.

Since joining the faculty in 1993, Jacobsen has dramatically expanded Berkeley’s Ocular Disease Clinic, which serves 6,000 patients annually. He also led the charge to transform ocular disease training at Berkeley and beyond — putting hands-on practice at its core, adapting to new laws that expanded optometrists’ scope of practice, and creating an unparalleled educational experience for his students.

Jacobsen’s expertise in diagnosis and treatment, along with his engaging interpersonal style, make him a favorite among patients, many of whom travel long distances to see him. They also inspire his students. “Every one loves him,“says O.D. student Siavash Assar. “His knowledge and ability to relate to students and patients make him one of the best professors I’ve ever had.”

“Dr. Jacobsen is incredibly smart, he’s renowned in the optometry community, he’s highly respected at the clinic—but he also has that ability to connect with his patients. You can’t get much better than that.”

—O.D. student Monica Chernoguz”

Students also know they can come to Jacobsen for guidance when they encounter a complex condition, and not be sidelined. “He doesn’t put you down, or just give you the answer,” says O.D. student Monica Chernoguz. “He really guides you to come to it yourself. And that is ultimately the best way of teaching.”

Such high esteem has moved Jacobsen’s students to select him numerous times for the school’s Roy Brandreth Award, given to the instructor who most inspires clinical excellence, and three times as their commencement faculty speaker.

A member of the Optometric Glaucoma Society’s Executive Committee, Jacobsen is known for designing innovative continuing education classes, and for enriching them with firsthand experience. His revolutionary and popular Glaucoma Grand Rounds Course lets practicing optometrists — many of whom are Berkeley alumni — learn about the disease through direct patient examination.

Every day, as he motorcycles to campus, Jacobsen reflects on his good fortune and why he chooses to work at Berkeley. “The opportunity to provide patient care while teaching students is just ideal,” he says. “I
love the students. I love the patients. I love being part of the university community.”

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