Skip to Content

In honor of our centennial anniversary, we are featuring members of our optometry community — past and present — each day of 2023!

See below for this week’s profiles.

This Week, We Are Celebrating…

February 6th

Carl Jacobsen, OD, FAAO

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. 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.

February 7th

Debora M. Lee Chen, OD, MPH, FAAO

Dr. Debora (Lee) Chen is an optometrist who cares for patients who have difficulty using their eyes together as a team. This includes binocular vision disorders, such as amblyopia (“lazy eye”), strabismus (an eye turn), eye teaming issues (tracking difficulties), and vision-related learning disorders. Many of these patients also have developmental differences, cortical vision impairment, or have suffered an acquired or traumatic brain injury. She also provides vision therapy and rehabilitation for these conditions. Her research interests include pediatric vision and new treatment options for amblyopia, including those using mobile device applications. She received her OD from UC Berkeley in 2008, completed her residency at Pediatric Optometry at the State University of New York in 2009, and returned to Berkeley for her MPH in 2015.

February 8th

Solon M. Braff, OD, FAAO

Dr. Solon “Bud” Braff (1914–1994) had a long and successful career as a practitioner, educator, and creative scientist. Dr. Solon graduated from Berkeley Optometry in 1937. He was at the forefront of the development of contact lenses in the early 1940s, first fitting scleral lenses in 1941. By 1943 he had limited his practice to contact lenses, the first optometrist in the country to do so. Dr. Braff discovered that scleral lenses could be fit without anesthesia, making scleral fitting techniques available to optometrists.

In 1945 he established a contact lens laboratory called Solex, which developed a corneal lens. Patented in 1948, the lens began as a mistake when a lathed-cut scleral lens broke in two pieces at the junction between the corneal and optic sections. He later started the Calcon Laboratory, which developed Gelflex, one of the first soft contact lenses. The FDA-approved lens was sold to Dow Corning, the company that had developed silicone. Dow Corning also decided to buy Dr. Braff’s labs.

He served as an Adjunct Professor at the Southern California College of Optometry and was a member of the American Optometric Association. He retired from private practice in 1980. Among his many accolades and honors, he has endowed the Solon M. & Pearl A. Braff Chair in Clinical Optometric Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

February 9th

Jennie Chai Louie Mew, BS

Dr. Jennie Chai Louie Mew, Class of 1931, was the first woman, first Asian woman, and youngest graduate to earn a degree from Berkeley Optometry.

Graduating just before her 20th birthday, Dr. Louie received an exemption from the State of California to practice before the age of 21, and continued to practice for 50 years in San Francisco’s Chinatown as Dr. J. C. Louie before retiring in the early 1980’s. Her legacy at Berkeley Optometry includes several family members who also served the profession and community: brother-in-law Dr. Harold Jew, Class of 1927, brother Dr. King Chew Louie, Class of 1934, son Dr. Arey Mew, Class of 1971, nephew-in-law Dr. Jeffrey Ko, Class of 1973, distant cousin Dr. Sharon Joe, Class of 1990 and her husband Dr. Greg Hom, Class of 1991, and niece Harriet Fong, former Executive Director of the Optometry Alumni Association. Dr. Louie’s identity as an optometrist and Berkeley Optometry alumna never waned even after retiring from practice, and in 2001 she attended the Optometry graduation as part of her 70th Reunion celebration. Her daughter Sylme Ho says returning to campus with her colleagues and community was “food for her soul.” Dr. Louie passed away in 2002.

February 10th

Irving Fatt, PhD, FAAO

Irving Fatt (1920–1996) was a Professor of Physiological Optics, and former Acting Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry (1978–79). He attended California Institute of Technology and was later in the air force, where he graduated as Second Lieutenant, Radio Officer, then served as an instructor at the US Air Force Technical School at Yale University. He als Dr. Fatt returned to the states in 1946 after serving in Japan in 1945, and entered UCLA, where he completed his BS in chemistry in 1947 and his MS in 1948. He then received his PhD in chemistry from University of Southern California, in 1955.

Dr. Fatt joined the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1957 to teach petroleum engineering. In 1964 he established the Bioengineering Program for undergraduates and graduates. In 1964 he also embarked upon groundbreaking research in corneal physiology with Dr. Richard Hill at Berkeley Optometry. They were the first researchers to quantify oxygen uptake in the living human cornea. Fatt made significant contributions to the understanding of flow through porous media and in oxygen transport in blood, whose principles he then applied to investigations involving oxygen supply to the cornea.

The work of Drs. Richard Hill and Fatt was the genesis for decades of seminal cornea and contact lens research at Berkeley.. When soft contact lenses were developed, Dr. Fatt designed equipment that could measure the oxygen permeability of lens materials. This equipment is now the standard of the industry.

Back to Archive Celebrating Our Community
Return to Main Centennial Page