Seventeenth Annual Handbook of Ocular Disease Management
Honoring Joseph C. Toland, OD, MD
He was a living legend to us—an optometrist who went back to medical school to become an ophthalmologist. As students, we remember his voice and manner always being to the point. As residents, we remember that he gave us enough independence to learn on our own while standing close enough to offer his skilled observations. His trademark was a series of clever one-liners that he would exclaim whenever the patient exhibited a classic ophthalmic sign, such as, “A soft eye is a sick eye,” “That eye is as red as a New Jersey road map,” “That patient is in trouble, he’s got one foot in the grave with the other on a banana peel,” “That eye is so sick, even holy water wouldn’t help” and “That eye is seeing lower than a well digger’s heel.” We all still laugh when we think of those times.

He was the director of Medical Services at The Eye Institute of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now Salus University) for over 30 years. The sacrifices he made for that was beyond believable. He was a successful Philadelphia ophthalmologist, yet he was professionally ostracized—forced to endure skepticism and criticism from his ophthalmology colleagues—because he believed in the profession of optometry. He never once forgot where he came from or how he started. He never once claimed to be better or above the people he worked with. Imagine how empowered young residents (like us) felt when he stopped to ask for our opinion on an ophthalmic question or case.

Dr. Toland always had multiple copies of our Handbook of Ocular Disease Management with him as he saw patients on the floor, and he asked for a signed copy of his favorite edition. Joe always had your back. Joe always built morale and inspired the people around him to be better. He never failed to say thank you when you worked with him.

The drive for expanded scope of practice began to develop in the early 1970s, and Dr. Toland was there from the start. He loyally led the way as optometry amended its curriculum to match the parallel professions of dentistry and podiatry, both of which had achieved prescribing privileges. He boldly testified for optometrists to gain “as taught” scope-of-practice privileges and practice expansion. He relentlessly and selflessly spearheaded meetings with legislators, gave tours of the facility and hosted visiting dignitaries. He toured the country with an exceptional faculty (whom he trained) and expanded continuing education into the diagnostic and pharmacologic therapeutic areas that are now common tracks at all major optometry meetings. He lectured to students on ocular pathology. He willingly remained on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all Eye Institute patients, residents and faculty.

This “gentle” man supported the students, staff, colleagues, faculty and residents with every fiber of his being. Joe Toland, OD, MD, has since retired as the Eye Institute’s medical director but still keeps regular hours. Recently the University honored him with the dedication of The Joseph C. Toland, OD, MD, Classroom, where all who enter can learn in the spirit of the man for whom it is named. This edition of The Handbook of Ocular Disease Management is dedicated to our mentor, colleague and friend, Dr. Joseph Toland, for all that he has done for us and our profession.

— Joe, Andy & Al