Visionary Women Shaping the Future of Ophthalmology

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s a fitting time to reflect on women’s remarkable contributions in the ophthalmology field. Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles in advancing eye care, breaking barriers, and shaping the landscape of vision health. Here are some inspiring stories of just a few of these trailblazing women whose legacies continue to inspire and empower generations of female eye care professionals.

Women in the History of Ophthalmology:

Dr. Ella Gertrude Stanton (1863-1931): Became first woman licensed to practice optometry in the United States around 1900. Upon receiving her training in Minnesota, Dr. Stanton began to work as an itinerant refracting optician. In addition to participating in optometry and professional associations, Dr. Stanton also started her own optical business run by women.


Elizabeth Sargent (1857–1900): Following the footsteps of Isabel Hayes Chapin Barrows. Elizabeth Sargent attended Howard University Medical College and earned her medical degree from Cooper Medical College. Dr. Sargent stayed unmarried allowing her to keep her own wealth and contribute where she felt best deserved, and was acknowledged for her dedication toward children’s health care and eventually turned out to be one of the leading eye specialists at San Francisco. She donated selflessly at the Pacific Dispensary for Women and Children’s Hospital, San Francisco where she later practiced as a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Dr. Margaret Kennard (1899–1975): A pioneering neurologist and researcher, Dr. Kennard significantly contributed to our understanding of neuroplasticity and visual development. Her groundbreaking studies on brain plasticity laid the foundation for innovative therapies in ophthalmology and neurology.



Lizzie Maud Carvill (1873–1934): In 1899, she graduated from Tufts College and as Dr. Carvill from Tufts College Medical School in 1905. She was the first woman ophthalmologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She joined as an ophthalmic staff member at the New England Hospital for Women and Children and worked as a consultant.


Dr. Patricia Bath (1942–2019): Renowned as the first African American female physician to receive a medical patent for her invention of the Laserphaco Probe, Dr. Bath revolutionized cataract surgery. Her groundbreaking contributions paved the way for improved treatment outcomes and accessibility to eye care.


Dr. Susan H. Day (1949-Present): Dr. Susan Day, a prominent ophthalmologist, completed her medical training in the late 1970s and held leadership positions at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) for over three decades. She served as president of organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Day played key roles in other professional organizations, including the American Ophthalmological Society and the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. In 2014, she became president and CEO of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-International, focusing on global standards for resident education. Throughout her lengthy career, Dr. Day has championed diversity, equity, and excellence in ophthalmology, inspiring women to pursue leadership roles and advancing the field significantly.

These remarkable women, among countless others, have left an indelible mark on the field of ophthalmology, inspiring future generations to pursue careers in eye care and research.

Acknowledging Women’s Impact at the Medical Eye Center:

At the Medical Eye Center, we are proud to carry on the legacy of these pioneering women by fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. With a majority of our staff being women, including:

  • 3 Female MDs and 5 Female ODs, lead patient care and innovation.
  • 3 Female Members in our executive leadership team, provide strategic guidance and vision.
  • 10 Female Managers, (alongside three male counterparts) ensuring smooth operations and exceptional service.
  • 48 Female Technicians (alongside six Male Technicians), delivering personalized and expert care to our patients.
  • 8 Female Opticians (alongside 1 Male Optician), assisting patients with eyewear selection and fittings.
  • 13 Female Members in our LSEC team (alongside five Male counterparts), working tirelessly to support safe and efficient procedures.

We recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women in ophthalmology, both past and present. Their dedication, expertise, and leadership continue to drive our commitment to excellence in eye care.

As we honor Women’s History Month, let us pay tribute to the women who have shaped the field of ophthalmology and reaffirm our commitment to advancing gender equality and diversity in eye health. Together, we strive for a future where all individuals have access to quality eye care, regardless of gender or background.