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A Passion for Helping Others See Clearly

March 9, 2009



Pre-Optometry Club President Robert Register.

Robert Register, president of the Pre-Optometry Club, volunteered to take over the club in his sophomore year. (Photo Mark Schmidt)  

Robert Register and Matthew Geller met as freshmen roommates, finding out that they have a lot in common: a passion for optometry.
Register, of Rome, N.Y., and Geller, from Plainview, N.Y., share a vision for the future of optometry that is bigger than just making a good living.

"Our main goal is to help people," said Register, who is considering a stint with Doctors Without Borders after optometry school. "I want to invent a program or find a cure for optical disease," he said.

Like Register, Geller wants to "expand the world of eye care for the better." Register and Geller have harnessed their dream in a practical way, by reinvigorating the SUNY Albany Pre-Optometry Club, and by growing the club from two members to 23 over a few years.

The two senior biology majors were sold on optometry as a career after meeting Dr. Edward Johnston, director of admissions and vice president of student affairs for SUNY Optometry College in New York City.

"Pre-health adviser Neilia Campbell told me he was coming in to talk to students so I figured it would be a cool idea," said Geller. "After speaking with Dr. Johnston, I was convinced that this career was for me. I remember leaving the office on a nice sunny day with a smile from ear to ear."

"Robert volunteered to take over the foundering Pre-Optometry Club in his sophomore year," said Campbell. "He and Vice President Matt Geller have created a thriving organization, providing members with a trip to SUNY Optometry and a visit to UAlbany by the New England College of Optometry."

Pre-Optometry Club Vice President Matthew Geller.

Pre-Optometry Club Vice President Matthew Geller wants to "expand the world of eye care for the better." (Photo Mark Schmidt)

The club's Web site is updated on a weekly basis. Additionally, the club is offering its first conference on Saturday, March 14, at 6 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. Johnston is attending and is making half-hour appointments from noon to 5 p.m. to meet with individual students. 

Meanwhile, both Register and Geller spend time each week preparing for their chosen careers. Register works part-time as a Single Certified Optician at a nearby Wal-Mart Vision Center, assisting patients who either pay out of pocket for their exams and glasses, or who have low insurance coverage. Geller, on the other hand, works at the Optix Family Eyecare Center, a high-end merchandise optical boutique that specializes in contact lens care.

"The most compelling and valuable experience that I have had at the vision center is my ability to help others," said Register.

"Once I knew that I was going to be an Optometry Doctor, I dove in head first, never looking back and completely saturating myself in the profession," Geller said. "Full force is my motto."


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