Lawrence A. Ragone, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Graduate, Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Past President, NJ State Board of Optometry
Past President, NJ Academy of Optometry
Former Associate Professor, Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Member, Board of Trustees Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Coordinator for Vision Care Services, Camden County Health Department
In 1961, Dr. Lawrence Ragone in conjunction with Doctors Girald Tull, Thomas L. Vermes and Arthur Scheir, organized and founded the South Jersey Eye Center. Having been born in Camden, New Jersey and establishing a private optometry practice in neighboring Cherry Hill, Dr. Ragone was well aware of the economic depression and social decline within the City. The founders of the South Jersey Eye Center sought to provide eye care services to those residents of Camden City and surrounding municipalities who were financially unable to receive care any other way.
As the South Jersey Eye Center grew, Dr. Ragone found it necessary to expand services in order to reach a diverse group of people within the entire county. Collaborating with Camden City and Camden County Department of Health, the South Jersey Eye Center, under the direction of Dr. Ragone, developed extensive eye care programs for disadvantaged City and County residents.
Due to the overwhelming number of children living below the poverty level within Camden City, Dr. Ragone began to devote more attention to the delivery of eye and vision services to school-age children. Vision is an essential element in early childhood development and it is estimated that nearly twenty-five percent of children have vision problems. Dr. Ragone established annual screening programs for pre-school children at various day care centers and elementary schools through Camden County. A devoted member of the Lions Clubs since 1956, Dr. Ragone actively campaigned to participate in the Lions Clubs International Foundation Amblyopia Program, which was designed to specifically detect amblyogenic factors in young children. This program has brought vision screening services to an additional population of younger children (aged two months to 6 years) since its inception in 1997.
Expansion to other needy areas within Camden County and surrounding South Jersey counties was of major importance to Dr. Ragone. The support of the Camden County Health Department enabled the establishment of a satellite clinic in Blackwood, New Jersey. This clinic is housed within the Health Department’s administrative and medical complex in a distinct area of Blackwood, known as Lakeland. This satellite facility allows greater access of vision care to residents of Camden County and would not be possible without the generous support of collaborating agencies.
Through funding by corporate and governmental agencies, Dr. Ragone’s vision of bringing services directly to the people was realized with the establishment of the South Jersey Eye Center’s Mobile Vision Clinic in 1985. The Mobile Vision Clinic travels to schools, nursing homes, senior resident centers, health fairs, and industrial sites.
Among Dr. Ragone’s many awards are the following:
'95Pennsylvania College of Optometry’s President’s Recognition Award
presented at the 75th Anniversary of the College
'96Lions Clubs International President’s Award for his work in Campaign SightFirst,
which raised $140 million to combat preventable and reversible blindness throughout the world
'97State of New Jersey Senate and Assembly Resolution citing Dr. Ragone for his dedication and work
in establishing the Camden Eye Center to serve the needy residents of New Jersey
'98New Jersey Lions Harold P. Nutter Award of Highest Recognition
for his work in the Lions organization and in the community
'03Camden County Reverend Martin Luther King Freedom Medal for his work in bringing
vital eye care services to disadvantaged residents of Camden County
Although enjoying a much deserved retirement, Dr. Ragone continues to assist with screening on the Mobile Vision Unit and still remains an active member of the SJEC Board of Directors.