Dr. Darrel Groman is shown testing his son Christopher. (Photo submitted)
Dr. Darrel Groman is shown testing his son Christopher. (Photo submitted)

PANDORA — When the Ohio State College of Optometry celebrates their 100th anniversary, a Pandora optometrist will be attending as one of the honored alumni.

Dr. Darrel Groman has been named as one of a select group of Centennial Notables by the Optometry Centennial Committee.

“When I received the email notifying me of the selection I must have read it 20 times,” said Dr. Groman. “I was so surprised.”

Dr. Groman has practiced for 28 years in a private solo practice in Pandora. His contribution to eye care though has gone worldwide.

While he was a student Dr. Groman helped in the Amigos Project transition to an official student chapter of the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (S-VOSH). Once he was in private practice he helped organize VOSH-Ohio and served as its first state director. He has served as the mission leader or co-leader for 12 overseas VOSH missions in India, Tanzania, Ukraine and six countries of Hispanic America.

“I observed the smiles of many who were able to see better instantly, with simple used glasses which could have been discarded,” Dr. Groman said. Seeing the value of discarded glasses he helped organize the VOSH-Ohio Lay Team’s Eyeglass Sorting Center in Pandora in 1987. Local volunteers at the center continue to collect glasses at the Pandora United Methodist Church daily. The center has instruments to read and record the prescription of each pair of donated glasses. The Glasses are put in individual Ziploc bags, labeled and put in inventory for future VOSH trips.

Dr. Groman also served as the consulting optometrist at Oakwood Correctional Institute from 1985 to 2001, Twelve years later a mother bringing her son to Dr. Groman said someone who worked at the prison had sent her. He had told her Dr. Groman’s work with the prisoners’ eye sight had helped a lot of inmates go off behavior and psychiatric medications.

“This position offered me the opportunity to see first-hand the significant impact of which vision undergirds behavior,” he said. The doctor said he was perplexed to find 1/3 of the inmates had never had comprehensive vision exams until he provided optometric care. Another 1/3 of the prisoners had glasses previously, but had been without them for two to four years.

“Normal people cannot function well if they are without their customary lenses for more than five minutes. I was baffled to find out there was no concerted effort by the prison’s staff to ensure the inmates had their glasses to wear.”

Dr. Groman has also offered in-service courses regarding the impact which good vision, proper posture and slanted desk-top positively impacts student’s performance and behavior. He is a strong proponent of the slant-board for students.

“They have flat desks now in so many classrooms,” he said. “When we read we naturally read at an angle of 40 to 60 degrees. Using a flat desk causes posture problems and shadow problems on reading material.”

When Dr. Groman was a young boy in scouting he decided he would like to go into the health field. It was when an optometrist prescribed him contact lens he had much more peripheral vision.

“I found I was less introverted when I was seeing well,” he said. “It was then he decided he wanted to become an optometrist.

Since then Dr. Groman has witnessed first-hand countless individuals whose lives have been tremendous for the better with optometric vision care.

“Having had a few academic challenges of my own, I have empathy for the student who struggles in the classroom,” Dr. Groman said. “I wish I could write about the numerous ‘Hallmark Patients” whom I have seen over the years, who have been helped with optometric vision care.”

Dr. Groman resides in Bluffton with his two sons Michael and Christian.

“To God be the glory,” Dr. Groman said about his years as an optometrist and recognition by the Ohio State School of Optometry.