William Elizondo, OD
Dr. William Elizondo started his career as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps where he fought as a Combat Marine in Korea against the North Koreans and the Chinese in 1951. After being discharged from the Marines in 1952, he worked at the post office as a postal clerk where he noticed many elderly individuals were unable to see the letters on the mail very well and others could not without glasses. That sparked his interest in optometry and he later attended Southern California of Optometry. He met his wife Maria and they have been married for over 55 years with three sons and several grandchildren.
Upon graduation from optometry school, Dr. Elizondo started practicing in 1959 in San Antonio, Texas. He eventually became president of San Antonio LULAC and was later elected as the National Health Director of LULAC which stands for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Dr. Elizondo saw there was a limiting scope of practice for him and his colleagues and set out to work on national legislation which would change the scope of practice for all optometrists. Much of his work, along with fellow ODs, took place during the President John F. Kennedy Administration and through President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, which now is a part of everyday life in the United States. In addition, he had the privilege of being the Ringside Eye Doctor for the Oscar De La Hoya fight in San Antonio in 1997. Dr. Elizondo has been commended by the Texas Optometric Association with the Prestigious Dr. Bill Pittman Award in 2000. In 2003, he was awarded the Ambassador for Peace Medal from the South Korean Government for being a U.S. Marine Korean War Combat Veteran. In 2010, he studied at the University of Houston Optometry College and passed the Texas Optometry Board Examination and received certification to be an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist at the age of 80. In 2013, the Bexar County District Optometric Society and the UHCO founded the Dr. William Elizondo Endowed scholarship. In 2016, he received the Distinguished Service Award which is the highest award in recognition for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession of Optometry by the Texas Optometric Association.
His personal and professional journeys are impressive, but Dr. Elizondo’s vision advocacy is just as astounding. In 1950, an optometrist could only examine or refract eyes, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, and perform visual training. For example, you could not remove an eyelash in the eye nor one rubbing against the cornea. In 1980 after 20 years of advocacy, the state legislators passed a state law which would allow the use of diagnostic agents. With diagnostic drugs ODs can now look for abnormal angles and use diagnostic drugs to determine diagnosis. Then in 1990, law changes to therapeutics allowed optometry doctors to treat eye diseases and injuries and then prescribe medicines and perform other procedures such as a foreign body removal. Optometry doctors can now treat eye diseases and injuries, prescribe medicines, and perform other procedures such as a foreign body removal and similar acts. Then in 1999, after concentrated lobbing of the state representatives and state senators, the optometric law was upgraded to prescribe medications in order to diagnose and treat glaucoma as authorized by the Texas Optometry Act. Through years of lobbing, Congress and the Senate have included optometry services in many of the insurances and insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid which is very important due to optometry being a regulated profession.