The Presidential Award is an accomplishment that Neil Draisin, OD ‘71, FCOVD
, is excited and honored to add to his long list of achievements throughout his career in optometry.
“I feel like I have had a successful career, one that I am very proud of,” said Dr. Draisin. “To me, this is a culmination of all of the things I have been honored with throughout my career, and I am thankful for Salus recognizing my work both in the optometric field and in my community.”
Dr. Draisin graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)
in 1971 where he served as both class and student body president. He took a strong interest in vision therapy and developmental optometry, which unbeknownst to him, would become the framework of his career. “During my time at PCO, we had a lecture from a doctor off-site that exposed me to a new avenue and is when I really took an interest in vision therapy and developmental optometry,” said Dr. Draisin. “The practice of optometry has changed drastically but vision therapy has been the mainstay of what I do and has really kept me going all of these years.”
After graduating from PCO and completing a residency at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry, he then relocated to Charleston, South Carolina where he opened his own practice emphasizing vision therapy and developmental optometry. His practice will be celebrating its 51-year anniversary this upcoming year and has expanded to five doctors and 22 employees since its “cold” opening.
His practice has both externship and residency programs, which gives Dr. Draisin an avenue to give back to the optometry profession and the schools/communities that helped him along his journey. “My role is to work with the students because it is something I really enjoy doing,” he said. “Once a week I take the students out for lunch and they get to ask questions about any cases, business/case management and questions about life. I want to help them in any way I can by giving them knowledge and advice from the experiences I have had throughout my life and career.”
Dr. Draisin’s commitment and passion to optometry and its development can be directly linked to his extensive achievements. A few of his notable accomplishments include, being president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, 2011 distinguished alumnus of the College of Charleston (his undergraduate institution), one of two PCO graduates to become the president of the Southeastern Congress of Optometry (SECO), inducted into the South Carolina Optometry Hall of Fame, elected into the National Academy of Practice in 2022 and is one of two PCO graduates selected as Optometrist of the Year for the American Optometric Association.
His accomplishments extend beyond optometry as he is quite involved in his community as well. He is the president of the Charleston Jewish Community Center and vice president of the Charleston Jewish Federation. He and his wife also received honorary doctorates from the College of Charleston for all of the work they have done with the institution. “These are all things I am very fortunate to be involved in and it keeps me very very busy,” said Dr. Draisin.
On top of his illustrious career, Dr. Draisin is even more proud of his family and the incredible lives they have led. “My wife and I have been married for 54 years, she has been so supportive and allowed me to do all of this work. She is a teacher by trade and was in the profession for 23 years,” said Dr. Draisin. “We have three children, our oldest daughter is a psychiatrist in Seattle, our second daughter is in Boston doing social work, and our youngest son is an attorney in New York.”
Dr. Draisin continues to work part-time at his former practice, which he sold to his partner in 2017. He is excited to continue working in the profession and watching it and his practice continue to develop.