The MOA Remembers Dr. Frank Fontana

Achievement, Commitment, and Advocacy

Few people have had as much positive impact on so many as did St. Louis optometrist Dr. Frank Fontana. Affectionately called “Uncle Frank” by hundreds of peers and friends throughout optometry, Dr. Fontana earned his nickname by serving as a mentor and advocate for countless optometric educators and future leaders of the profession. He was an internationally recognized speaker and a true pioneer during the early years of contact lenses, helping train many of his colleagues throughout the US in this then new technology. He died in Las Vegas on October 3 at age 96, after suffering a stroke a few days earlier while attending Vision Expo West, a major eyecare conference.

A St. Louis, Missouri, native, Dr. Fontana was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and became a supply sergeant in a medical battalion during World War II. Decorated for his actions in Europe, Dr. Fontana would use his GI Bill to graduate from Illinois College of Optometry in 1949. Only a year later, Dr. Fontana would open his practice in St. Louis and specialize in contact lenses.

A pioneer in the field, Dr. Fontana published countless articles and clinical investigations related to contact lenses, in addition to consulting and lecturing on the topic throughout his career. He was named chair of AOA’s then-Contact Lens Committee in 1979 and was co-founder of AOA’s Contact Lens Section before chairing the section in 1983.

An active volunteer in his local optometric society, the Missouri Optometric Association and AOA, Dr. Fontana served on AOA’s Communications Committee and joined the Optometry’s Meeting® Exhibit Committee in 1999, serving there for over a decade.

His extensive expertise earned him editorial positions with many trade publications, as well as adjunct teaching and researcher positions at both the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry and Washington University School of Medicine.

Inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2012, Dr. Fontana was awarded the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) Legend Award, the AOA Contact Lens Section Man of the Year Achievement, and countless other industry recognitions throughout his career. Additionally, Dr. Fontana was awarded the AOA President’s Award for a lifetime of distinguished service to the profession in October 2017.

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