Alumni Association Public Service Award: Dr. David W. Friess
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Alumni Association Public Service Award: Dr. David W. Friess

David Friess smiling for professional photoWhen David W. Friess, OD ‘02, FAAO, received a call from Bob Owens, OD ‘80, FAAO, Diplomate ABO, current Alumni Association Board president, breaking the news that he had nominated him for this year’s  Public Service Award, Dr. Friess was grateful and humbled.

“I got to know Dr. Owens when I served on the alumni board. I really enjoyed working with him and getting to know him as a very engaging leader. Hearing that he had nominated me for the award, and that I had won, was such a kind gesture and one that I really appreciate,” he said.

Dr. Friess has remained connected in a variety of ways to Salus University since his graduation from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), not only serving in various positions on the Alumni Association Board, but Dr. Friess was also instrumental in developing a partnership between STAAR Surgical and PCO/Salus,  its clinical facility, The Eye Institute (TEI), and James Lewis, MD, a Salus University consulting ophthalmologist, along with support from the facility where he performs lens-based refractive surgery.

As the current vice president of Global Medical Affairs at STAAR Surgical, a leading developer and manufacturer of implantable lenses and companion delivery systems for the eye, Dr. Friess helped launch Project MyVision, a charitable lens-based refractive surgery program.  

Through the program, STAAR donates EVO Implantable Collamer® Lenses (EVO ICLs) to underserved, low-income patients diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness), which is the need for distance vision correction. “The EVO ICL is an implantable lens used during elective refractive surgery procedures designed to provide individuals with visual freedom from contact lenses and glasses. This new partnership between Salus University, Dr. Lewis and STAAR Surgical will expand access to individuals who may not have the economic resources to consider refractive surgery,” said Dr. Friess. “We believe that the collaboration involved in Project MyVision can also benefit PCO/Salus students during their clinical training by exposing them to the benefits of vision correction with lens-based refractive surgery and potentially opening new career paths for work in collaboration with surgeons and surgical practices.”

This partnership has provided a new option to qualified patients with vision correction needs who might have less access to this type of elective procedure.

As a result of his work, Dr. Friess is being recognized with the University’s Alumni Association 2023 Public Service Award. “I am humbled by the award. Anytime you are recognized by your alma mater is a rare occasion, so it is very nice to receive this sort of recognition on behalf of a collaborative team effort. I see this program as a win-win for patients, students and all parties involved. I am looking forward to the progress and development of the program going forward,” he said. 

Dr. Friess emphasized the important connections he has made throughout this project, and extended his sincerest gratitude to Salus president, Michael Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, FAAO, FACHE, vice president of Institutional Advancement, Jacqueline Patterson, dean of PCO, Melissa Trego, OD '04, Resident '09, PhD, Dr. Lewis, Dr. Owens, and colleagues at STAAR Surgical for their support of the partnership.

“Dr. Lewis has been eager to support this idea and provide excellent care for the patients involved. I don’t think I could talk about this project and how it all came together without emphasizing the support and leadership from Dr. Mittelman, Dr. Trego and Jacquie Patterson,” said Dr. Friess. “They are always very welcoming to new ideas and how we can bring benefits to students and patients of the University.”

Among the many connections Dr. Friess made at PCO/Salus, the most valuable was meeting his wife, Amanda (Bruley) Friess, OD ‘02, whose importance in his success is equally immeasurable. 

Dr. Friess and his wife Amanda