Have you heard the one about Optometry and Theatre?

Steve Smith in Curacao

Dr. Steve Smith is  a Doctor of Optometry in the Knoxville area.  An East Tennessee native who grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and Chattanooga, TN, and a University of Tennessee alumnus, Steve graduated from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis in 1979.  There, he was a member of Phi Theta Upsilon and a charter member of the Mid-City Lions Club.  He was a member of Pearle Vision’s Optometric Advisory Council for five years and has received Ciba Vision’s Innovation in Contact Lens Patient Care Award.  As a member of the Acuvue Leadership Team, he has participated in the speakers’ panel and new product studies.  Dr. Smith has donated hundreds of hours of volunteer eye exams for the needy through OneSight.  Outside the office he is an instructor for Operation Boot Camp Knoxville.  Dr. Smith is a world traveler and enjoys learning how nutrition and exercise affect ocular health. And did I mention that he’s on the Board of Flying Anvil Theatre? Read on….

Tell me about your first time on stage – how old were you? 

I was the youngest Prince Charming in history; age 8; lost my cape after the first performance and had to wear my bedroom curtain thereafter; that was probably a sign.

Did you ever plan to pursue acting?

No, I am too polite.

Do you have a favorite kind of theatre?

Eugene O”Neill, Tennessee Williams, A.R. Gurney: Teach me; depress me; challenge me; make me laugh; be smart; turn a phrase; earn my respect. I am not an easy audience. I love suffering (as long as it is onstage.)

If you could see any theatrical show – from anytime in history – what show would you like to see?

Strangely, I am dying to see Billy Elliot.

Who are your hero’s?

Good parents, Donald, successful people, people who never give up; Southerners in general.

Have you ever walked out on a show? (If so, why?)

Yes, a Broadway production of Showboat. Deadly dull. I know there are others; I am not afraid to get up and walk out if a show is not going to get THAT much better and I have gotten over feeling guilty about leaving.

What’s your opinion on the theatre scene here in Knoxville?

 I have hugely talented friends doing great stuff all over town, but a lot of it seems somewhat safe, which is why Flying Anvil was so appealing to me (Do I get the check now?)

Well, serving on the Board of Flying Anvil  involves writing more checks than receiving them Steve!  Now – you travel a lot for work and pleasure – any trips on the horizon?

Air travel is hell; but we are going to Virgin Gorda in July for the third time; renting a Villa with friends. We always go during the unfashionable season and do absolutely nothing; I cook a little. We snorkel. But that is it. I am so glad I have seen much of the world already; it is no longer easy to travel by air, but lately we have tried trains and ships and are somewhat encouraged.

You’re a Doctor of Optometry and also a big supporter of live theatre. Can you help me “see” the connection? (pun intended!)

Oh, that’s easy. I do my job in the dark, too.

Tell me about the  organization called “OneSight” – I know you do a lot of volunteer work for them. 

Not enough room here; already a lump in my throat. Imagine a mother seeing her child for the first time; or a child seeing the world for the first time; we aren’t as well known as philanthropic organizations like Toms(buy one give one shoes), or huge philanthropic organizations like The Ford Foundation ,but our reach is thousands and thousands of needy people on all continents except Antarctica.

Is there anything I should have asked you – and haven’t?

Yes and the answers are Alfred Molina, elves, Vanessa Redgrave, NCAA basketball, Daniel Tosh, Bonefish Grill vodka martini with bleu cheese olives, and motherfucker.

Feel free to add your work website address.

Naw; I’m too busy.

In your case, I think that’s true! Thanks so much for spending a little time with us.  Below is the website for  Dr.  Smith’s eye care clinic  – along with a litle more information on OneSight.


ONESIGHT:  Current estimates indicate that more than 733 million people worldwide suffer from vision loss. For 563 million, a pair of glasses would restore their vision. In some countries, a pair of eyewear costs more than a month’s salary making eye care unaffordable for most people. Poor vision negatively effects a child’s ability to learn in school and robs an adult of independence, mobility and quality of life.


OneSight is a family of vision care charities dedicated to providing healthy vision, eyewear and sun protection to those in need worldwide. Since 1988, these charitable efforts have provided free vision care and eyewear to more than eight million people and have granted millions of dollars towards optical research and education.

– See more at: http://www.onesight.org/na/about_us/#sthash.PDAsG6TB.dpuf


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