Alumni & Friends Spotlights

Vaughn Sanders

B.S.'68, O.D.'70

Dr. Vaughn Sanders (B.S.’68, O.D.’70) is an IU School of Optometry alumnus who has been at the forefront of optometry’s evolution in the United States from being a “drugless vision profession” into today’s “Primary Eyecare Provider.” Throughout his career, Dr. Sanders has served through various boards and committees including the Kentucky Optometric Association (KOA), the Vision Service Plan of Kentucky, the Southern Council of Optometrists, and SECO. He currently serves as chair of Industry and Professional Relations for SECO International and was instrumental in IUSO’s return to SECO in 2014.


Where did you grow up?

 “Southern Indiana. My father farmed in Gibson County, and I attended high school in Haubstadt, Ind. in a class of 39 students.”

Where did you get your BA? What was your major?

“I went to Kentucky Wesleyan College for 2 years but completed my BS in Chemistry at IU.”

What got you interested in Optometry as a career?

 “College physics and my Optometrist, Dr. Bob Gregg, in Evansville, Indiana”

 Who was your favorite instructor during your time at IUSO? Why?

 “Dr. Jerry Strickland. He was from my home area in Southern Indiana.  He always took the time to help. He became more than just a Professor, but a friend I could turn to for help. I also need to include Dr. John Amos, my checkout instructor in the Clinic. He was the reason I joined the USAF.”

 What is your favorite IUSO memory? 

  “My classmates. The friends I have made cannot be replaced.”

 What was your first job in Optometry? 

 “Practiced in the US Air Force, and married the colonel’s daughter.”

 What have been your career milestones? 

 “I started my private practice in 1977 in Owensboro, Kentucky.   In 1978, a new law allowed use of diagnostic drugs.  In 1986, law was changed to include prescriptions medication (drops) to treat the eye.  1995, while I was President of the KY Optometric Association, we passed our Oral and Injection law. In 2011, the Optometry law was changed to allow lasers and minor surgery in Kentucky.”

 What is the most rewarding aspect of your career? 

 “Helping people to see. However, it is the personal and professional relationships developed with patients I treasure most.”

 What are some of the major organized professional activities in which you have participated? 

 1978-1980: Served as a trustee of the Kentucky Optometric Association.

1980-1992: Served as chair of the Vision Service Plan of Kentucky and board member of Northeast VSP.

1992-1997: Served on the Executive Board of Kentucky Optometric Association and was president from 1995-1996.

1997: Elected to the Southern Council of Optometrists and served as President in 2002.

2005-2009: Served as chair of the International Education Committee for SECO.

2007-2009: Served on the Education Committee for the World Council of Optometry.

2011-Present: Serve as chair of Industry and Professional Relations for SECO International.

 Do you have volunteer or community interests? If so, please share those.

 “I have been involved in United Way, Lions Club, & Rotary.  I am a board member of the Owensboro World Affairs Council and a member of the Owensboro Bourbon Society. I also serve as a trustee for my church and am on the Advisory Board for Kentucky Wesleyan College.”

 Have you received awards or honors for your career accomplishments?  If so, please share those.

 “The ‘Leadingham Award of Continued Service’ from the Kentucky Optometric Association in 2003”

 What do you wish someone would have told you when you graduated from IUSO?

 “I needed to take a business course on practice management and contracts on buying a practice”

 What advice would you offer to new Optometry grads?

  “Always consult with a lawyer. The control of your own destiny is worth more than money.”