Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 4
Photographer keeps watchful eye

     Jane Timmons Stein's resume overflows with words that can't be
found in a standard dictionary. As the senior ophthalmic photographer
at Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia, Stein, Delaware
'71, takes pictures of the human eye. She's photographed some of the
world's rarest eye conditions, and nationally known eye doctors rely
on her work to help determine how to treat their patients.
     Stein uses $50,000 cameras- equipment as intricate as the human
eye itself-to perform five types of photography, each pertaining to a
different part of the eye. One of only 600 senior ophthalmic
photographers nationwide, she combines expert photography skills with
a comprehensive understanding of the eye and an ability to remain cool
under stress.
     Ophthalmic photography is high-pressure work. The clarity of each
photograph is essential, and after patients receive eyedrops, there's
only a short window of opportunity during which photographs can be
taken. Because an intravenous dye injection given during one of the
procedures can make a patient sick, ophthalmic photographers also must
be ready to handle nursing situations. Stein's resume includes
administering drops, patient contact, history taking and CPR
     "You have to keep a cool head and make it look easy. It's my job
to keep the whole room calm. There is so much to remember, and in some
cases, I have only two minutes to take the photograph," says Stein,
who majored in art and minored in photography at Delaware. "And, there
are no second takes. Either you get the picture or you don't. If you
don't get it, you have to put the patient through it again."
     In most cases, Stein works without eye doctors in the room. But,
for some procedures, including one called fluoroscein angiography, a
doctor injects dye into a patient's vein and then Stein captures the
dye's movement through the eye.
     After working in hospitals for two summers during college, Stein
knew she wanted a career that married her love of photography with her
interest in medicine and patient care. A counselor at Thomas Jefferson
University in Philadelphia steered her toward the hospital's
photography unit, which hired her immediately. Over a seven-year span,
Stein rose from darkroom technician to ophthalmic assistant to senior
ophthalmic photographer.
     Stein also worked as a medical illustrator and a teaching
assistant at Jefferson. In 1980, she joined the staff of the
Pennsylvania College of Optometry, which is affiliated with Hahnemann
University and The Eye Institute. As the senior ophthalmic
photographer at one of the leading optometry schools in the country,
Stein has taught continuing education courses to eye-care specialists
from around the world. She also instructs residents, who will use
ophthalmic cameras after graduation.
     The Pennsylvania College of Optometry is also one of the nation's
primary research facilities. Working closely with renowned eye-care
specialists, Stein documents rare eye diseases and pathologies for
publication in medical journals. Her work has been published in
Duane's Ophthalmology, a 12-book reference for eye-care specialists,
and her photographs appear in two new books on neurological/eye and
optic-nerve diseases.
     When Stein isn't working, she spends time with her husband,
Robert, and their son, Andrew. The Steins first met in her freshman
year when he was one of her professors. He left after that year, but
the two bumped into each other three years later at an art show.
     Robert Stein now teaches at the University of the Arts in
downtown Philadelphia, and the family lives outside Philadelphia in
Melrose Park, Pa.
     Stein credits Delaware and Prof. Byron Shurtleff in the
Department of Art with heightening her love of photography. "At
Delaware, I learned a lot of the basics about the camera and darkroom
procedures. I also learned how to handle criticism, because if you
can't handle criticism, you shouldn't be in this profession," she
     A seasoned professional with 24 years of experience, Stein is
enthusiastic about her work.
     "I certainly love the patients," she says. "When it comes to
taking the photographs, it's rare that I will see something that I've
never seen before. But, if it's very dramatic, then I still get
                                         -Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83