It’s March, and that means International Women’s Month. We thought we’d feature some awesome women of optometry, starting with Norma Messinger Meshkov of Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs. The Messinger family has been rooted in optometry since 1888. First established in the Lower East Side of New York, the family ultimately relocated to Center City Philadelphia, where Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs thrived and expanded into the suburbs with innovative eye care. Norma Messinger Meshkov continues the five-generation family optical tradition as President of Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs.
“The technology and fashion of eyewear have evolved so quickly. We’re committed to educating patients about how these advances can really improve their quality of life” said Meshkov, whose father, grandfather and great grandfather were optometrists and wholesale optical lab managers. She added, “It’s an honor to add to the legacy of my family and women in the optical industry.” Norma’s latest endeavor is Wink Optical, an upscale lens boutique in suburban Jenkintown PA.
A Legacy of Women
While the earliest history of optometry can be tracked to about 3,000 BC, women didn’t really start to enter the field in the United States until the 20th century. The first recorded female to obtain her doctorate in Optometry was Gertrude Stanton, back around 1899. Shortly thereafter, Mollie Armstrong followed suit and opened her own practice in Texas.
Celia Sánchez-Ramos gained her PhD in Pharmacy in the area of
Preventice Medicine in 1994. She is a well-established optician-optometrist and Tenure Lecturer at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has filed 13 patents, including one for therapeutic contact lenses for pseudophakic eyes and/or eyes suffering neurodegeneration. This led her to being awarded The Best Invention Presented by a Woman Inventor 2009 Prize by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, the Gold Medal for the Best Invention in the Healthcare Area, and the Best Spanish Patent prize, awarded by the Spanish Office of Patents and Trademarks.
Paula R. Newsome is the first African-American female Optometrist to practice in North Carolina, and the second African-American female Optometrist licensed by North Carolina. She is the first African American female in the U.S. to become a member of the American Academy of Optometry.
Mollie Wright Armstrong was the first woman optometrist in the state of Texas and only the second in the United States. After attending Baylor Female College, she studied at optometry schools in Georgia, Illinois, and Missouri. She began her practice in Brownwood in 1899. She was active in the passage of the first optometry law in Texas, became a member of the Texas Board of Examiners in Optometry, and served as vice president and president of the board, to which she belonged for twenty-four years. She was president of the Texas Optometric Association from 1923 to 1925. When the Texas Optometrist was first published, she was its editor. It was largely through her efforts that the first optometric professional liability policy was made available to optometrists nationwide, and she became a trustee of the American Optometric Association.
Women at the Forefront
Since then, visionary women began to implement themselves into optometry practices and organizations all over the United States. Even though it would be over a century before a female was elected President of the American Optometric Association (AOA), women were making strides in eye care continuously along the way. This included such things as pursuing further education and joining auxiliary organizations where they were able to team up to help support local and international charities, as well as spreading the word about vision health to their communities.
Today, women make up about 38% of the profession of Optometry (compared to only 2% in 1976). While the field is obviously still dominated by men, the percentage of female eye doctors continues to climb every year, showing that women have not only made huge strides in eye health care, they aren’t slowing down anytime soon!
Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs Newest Woman Eye Doctor
The latest addition to the Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs family is Dr. Stacey Filippo Tyran, who practices at Wink Optical in Jenkintown PA. She attended Neshaminy High School and graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in Psychology, then went on to get her B.S. and Doctor of Optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1998. Dr. Filippo Tyran’s interest in optometry is a family affair, as her father Dr. James Filippo is also a Doctor Of Optometry who had a successful private practice in Northeast Philadelphia. Dr. Filippo Tyran has over 18 years of experience in private practice optometry. She treats patients of all ages and using an integrative approach, strives to provide the best personal care to each and every patient. Dr. Filippo Tyran lives with her husband Jim and children Madison and Nicholas in Wrightstown, PA.
Wink Optical is located in the Baederwood Shopping Center at 1649 The Fairway in Jenkintown PA. For more information, visit wink-optical.com or call 215-935-6320.
Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs are located in Center City and South Philadelphia, Bensalem, East Norriton, Ardmore and Wink Optical in Jenkintown PA. Call (215) 368-1600 or visit philadelphiaeyeglasslabs.com
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