Melissa Bailey, OD PhD – Class of 2001- Notable Alumna

Melissa BaileyMy first official visit to The Ohio State University College of Optometry was in the summer of 1996 with the late John T. Mount, the former Ohio State Vice President and great-uncle of my childhood friend. At the time, I had no idea how important he was to Ohio State. Still, he unbelievably arranged for me to have a tour of our College, gave me a tour of the entire Columbus campus himself, and took me to lunch. During that visit, I decided to become an optometrist, and I only applied to Ohio State. I have been at the college since the fall of 1997. I was fortunate to be one of the students selected to join the first class of National Institutes of Health-funded Summer Trainees at the College of Optometry. After that, I received a doctorate of optometry and two graduate degrees in vision science (MS and PhD), and I have been very grateful for the excellent optometric and vision research training I have received. I was also blessed to have been accepted to train in the laboratories of fellow colleagues, Drs. Karla Zadnik and Donald Mutti. I know I could not have received better training as a vision scientist anywhere else.

I have often said that I chose a career in academia because I wanted to do more than practice optometry; I want to change how it is practiced forever. In addition to teaching our outstanding students, I have had the privilege to be the first researcher to conduct in-depth studies of the ciliary muscle in humans of all ages. In my laboratory, we have discovered that even though there are not yet any diseases or disorders associated with the ciliary muscle, it is not the same in everyone. It is curiously thicker in some individuals with myopia, and we now know that it continues to grow throughout the elementary school years. Graduate students in my laboratory have also helped me to learn more about how it functions during accommodation and its impact on a patient’s ability to sustain accommodation. For pioneering this area of research, I was awarded the Irvin M. and Beatrice Borish Outstanding Young Researcher Award by the American Academy of Optometry in 2012.

In addition to studying the ciliary muscle, I have taken an interest in developing new ophthalmic devices. I was recently the winner of a $10,000 prize in the Big Ideas for Healthcare and Design at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for inventing a software application that will allow healthcare professionals to make multiple vision measurements on a single device, including autorefraction and eye alignment.

I know that I can speak on behalf of my husband of 17 years, Daniel Bailey, and our nine-year-old son, Luke, when I say that we are all grateful for my selection as a notable alumnus and all of the many educational and career opportunities that I have received from Ohio State over the last two decades.