Meet Jacob R. Lang, OD, FAAO, of Stillwater, MN.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota called Glenwood about two hours northwest of Minneapolis. I grew up on a dairy farm. When I was a kid, my dad also worked at a manufacturing company that builds baggage carts that you see at airports. My mom was at home when I was a kid, and then she worked in retail clothing.
Why ocular disease and contact lenses?
I had iritis before I was a teenager. After going to the ER several times and then finally visiting an optometrist who helped me, seeing that division for medicine was big for me in saying there are other things out there and all doctors aren’t created equally nor do they know everything. While I was in optometry school in Boston, I gravitated to the front of the eye. Contact lenses just connected with me; the math, the ways you could correct vision, and the technology lit my fire. Corneal topographies and mapping and how that evolved into refractive surgery and other procedures there, there is a lot going on. And a lot of opportunity to embrace technology and utilize for better care for our patients.
Previously by Vernon Trollinger: Q&A: OD research, the future of dry eye, being a wild man
Why a residency in contact lenses and should more OD students go that route?
Optometry needs more optometry-trained ODs. I’m biased because I help run one. The level of education and dedication that goes into that year of residency is important and helpful in an OD’s career. I realized in my fourth year that I didn’t know enough, and I wanted to. I wanted to set myself up as someone who did know a lot and to give myself and my career the opportunities to continue to grow my entire career. I saw residency as a next step to pushing myself forward on the forefront of the profession.
What made you get involved again with academics?
The integrated care model we have lends itself to educating others, whether within the practice or bringing in outside doctors, externs, and residents. I wanted to make other doctors better, so we reached out to schools and started doing what has evolved into an ocular disease residency program. Maybe later in my career I could see joining academia, but there are advantages to private practice and academic worlds. There are more opportunities to be busier with patient care in a private practice setting. There are less rules from a patient care and financial standpoint. In academia, there are more hoops to jump through. I think the ship is a faster steering in a private practice than in academia, and I enjoy that.