The Connecticut Association of Optometrists is now accepting scholarship applications for the three scholarships administered by the Association. Students must be a current resident of Connecticut in order to qualify. Applications must be received by July 31, 2016. To apply online, click here. Or go directly to the CAO website: www.cteyes.org and access the online application or download the application under “Resources for Optometrists”.
Remember that time when our profession lost the ability to practice at the level that we are taught in school? Me neither.
This is all thanks to the advocates who fight for optometry on a daily basis. Some of us students appreciate all that is done for the profession, but feel as if there is little that can be done on our part. In fact, there is plenty that we can do as students to be actively involved with state associations. Continue reading
Advocates for optometry took a united message directly to Capitol Hill and federal agency officials April 19 — that AOA doctors and AOSA/AOA-member students will do whatever it takes to better safeguard patient health and ensure that millions more Americans have expanded access to the doctor of optometry-provided comprehensive eye and vision health care services that they need.
More than 300 doctors and 300 students convened in Washington, D.C., April 17-19, as part of the 2016 AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference to focus the national spotlight on the needs of patients and advocate for the profession’s top priorities, including better safeguarding contact lens wearers against increasing abuses of online resellers, confronting anti-patient, anti-doctor vision and health plan mandates, and ensuring that more Americans—including our nation’s veterans—have access to the primary eye and vision health care services that doctors of optometry provide.
For the first time, optometry students who went to Washington, DC, as advocates for their future profession received travel grants from the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).
“The AOSA takes pride in the strong support for advocacy shown by students across the country,” said Erick Henderson, AOSA President. “Ten percent of students contribute to AOA’s Political Action Committee and the combined contribution is more than $20,000.”
In addition to visiting Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and key staff, many students said highlights of the meeting included hearing U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove speak.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry has undergone some major changes within the last few years. When the first class graduated in 1984, there were only 32 students, and that number has been steadily growing ever since. In fact, the class of 2015 just graduated 41 new optometrists.
The number of second-generation would-be optometrists joining school rosters, not only at UMSL but across the country, is also growing. Optometrist parents are often our first role models growing up as children and we do our best to mimic them. “It’s going to sting a little bit” was my very first bit of doctor-ly advice I gave when I was 2 as I was listening to my mom while she was performing a vision screening at a nursing home not far from her house.
I can remember sitting in my mom’s office on Take Your Child to Work Day, riding in the chair up and down as I attempted to see myself in the mirror through the phoropter.
Though my own path to optometry was not as straightforward as some of my other classmates, it is memories like these that stand out most in my mind. It’s also memories like these that connect me to the other legacy students in my class, who remember spending time with their parents at work, possibly helping out as office staff or even getting stuck in the back office after school until it was time to pack up for the night.
But it had its perks too: whenever Mom had an interesting case in the office, she would take time to explain to me what was happening. I didn’t understand much at the time but as I progress through school, I am beginning to have a greater appreciation for what she does and what she was trying to teach me when I was younger.
I also had many opportunities to participate in events with my mom. I have been with her and other members of the Missouri Optometric Association as they attended their annual visit to Jefferson City to visit with Missouri legislators and advocate for optometry. It helped me understand that optometry is much more involved.
Optometry is a great profession with opportunity for growth and the scope of practice is increasing, creating more opportunities than many of our parents had when they graduated. With each new generation, the profession grows into something a little bit better than it was before. Students and new graduates are bringing to the office new ways of treating disease and vision loss, along with creating new ways of looking at and solving old problems.
So while we may follow in our parents’ choice of profession, our scope of practice has increased in ways that were not offered to them. Building on a solid foundation isn’t a guarantee of success, but taking an experience and a lesson, making it your own, and making it better; that’s carrying on a family legacy.
To write this article, I thought I would get information from the people that know best: real-life optometrists from around the world. Join me on my journey with them; our first stop is Jena, Germany!
Hendrik Walther: “Craftsmanship & Contact Lenses” Education: BSc, MSc (Optom), University of Applied Sciences, Jena, Germany (2011)
Currently: Ph.D. candidate, Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR), University of Waterloo (UW)
Hendrik had the tricky job of explaining to me exactly how optometry school and the profession of optometry work in Germany. Here’s what I learned: technically, there is no designation for optometry, and people are just beginning to use the word in Germany. With an apprenticeship, usually three years, the student becomes a registered optician (augenoptiker). This pretty much means the same thing as it does in Canada or the U.S., but the RO designation is required for the 3.5 year BSc, which is similar to our OD. The focus in the BSc is put on the “craftsmanship” of optometry as scope of practice prohibits them from making any diagnosis or prescribing any drugs, which is left to ophthalmologists. After the BSc, students can continue on in a course-based MSc program, which many students like Hendrik elect to do. There are four German optometry schools, and the education is slightly different at each; Jena is known for its association with Carl Zeiss. Also, specifically at Jena, there is a rigorous contact lens program, which Hendrik says was his inspiration for his current position at the CCLR in Waterloo.
Alex Muntz: “The I Don’t Know of Research” Education: BSc, MSc (Optom) University of Applied Sciences, Jena, Germany (2011)
Currently: Ph.D. Candidate, CCLR, UW
Alex, Hendrik’s former and current classmate, and I got to chatting a little bit about the optometry student experience in Germany. Originally from Romania, Alex completed only a six-month (rather than three-year) apprenticeship before enrolling at Jena and at 18, found himself extremely fortunate to be the youngest person in his class of about 30. Having had the enriching experience of traveling to study, and now as a teaching assistant at UWSO, he sees one big difference at Jena: there was no clinic at the school and legality limited ocular health clinical exposure. For example, IOP could only be taken using NCT. There was such a focus on refraction that their fifth term (externships) had three parts: contact lenses, refraction, and shadowing ophthalmologists in a hospital. Without as much of a health focus, Alex gained expertise in contact lens and did extensive work with instruments in lab, giving him the desire to be at the forefront of optometric technology. He calls his motivation for school “The I Don’t Know of Research.” While there are stark differences, including that German students enjoy indefinitely interest-free loans and what we might see as little-to-no tuition fees, Alex noted that students around the world are all motivated equally.
Jaya Dantam: “Experience & Interaction” Education: BOptom, Bausch & Lomb School of Optometry, Hyderabad, India (2006), Ph.D., Brien Holden Vision Institute and School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2012)
Currently: Post-Doctoral Fellow, CCLR, UW
Graduating from the Bausch & Lomb School of Optometry in Hyderabad, India, Jaya gained extensive clinical experience during her internship at the globally recognised L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). Alongside ophthalmologists, her experience was highly medical with interns gaining wide exposure to specialty cases in various departments of the LVPEI including, such as uvea, low vision, oculoplasty and optical-outlet, with an option of rural area postings. On average, she used to work-up at least 30 cases daily, of which about 10 needed comprehensive eye exams, while the remainder were follow- ups. Jaya says that working with such a large volume of patients was consistent with the educational experience being highly interactive. With her limited class population (13), daily interaction with professors was common. Students were called upon randomly to answer questions during class; this accelerated and standardized their learning experience by allowing the professor to track how the class was learning.
India has about 46 optometry institutes, with a varying quality of education. Hence, in recent years, significant work has been conducted to regulate and establish a standardized profession of optometry in India. For more information on optometric practice in India, references are included:
De Souza N, Cui Y, Looi S, Paudel P, Shinde L, Kumar K, Berwal R, Wadhwa R, Daniel V, Flanagan J, Holden B. The role of optometrists in India: An integral part of an eye health team. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2012. 60(5):401-405.
Thite N, Jaggernath J, Chinanayi F, Bharadwaj S, Kunjeer G. Pattern of Optometry Practice and Range of Services in India. Optom Vis Sci. May 2015. 92(5):615-22.
Matthew O. Oriowo: “Let’s train them right” Education: BSc (Optom), University of Benin, Nigeria, MSc, Ph.D., UW, FAAO
Currently: Professor and department head of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria
Earning his BSc at the first optometry school in Nigeria, Dr. Matthew Oriowo practiced for several years before traveling to Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa in various positions including playing a major role in setting up optometry schools. He’s currently setting up the curriculum for Nigeria’s 6th school of optometry in Ilorin, which opened in 2013.
The OD program at Ilorin is six years after high school with the class of 38 students spending the first two years taking basic science courses.
With no upper-year classes in the program yet, the clinical curriculum is somewhat undecided but Dr. Oriowo’s goal is to “ensure the optometry curriculum is very standard, including all aspects of optometry, such that we are not doing a disservice to the profession.”
Nigeria has a fairly wide scope of practice similar to Canada and many states in the United States. Optometrists can prescribe for ocular surface infections and treat glaucoma to a certain extent.
Having only four lecturers at Ilorin and all six optometry schools in the southern part of Nigeria, the only thing holding them back is “lack of manpower,” according to Dr. Oriowo. He encourages anyone interested in gaining a great clinical experience to go there.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip around world; I certainly did! From my time with these amazing optometrists, I’ve seen that though they may differ in their degrees, designations, and scope of practice, all optometrists love what they do.
During my first semester of optometry school, I eagerly volunteered to be a contact lens patient for a fourth-year student. I happily went in for my first free fitting (I should have known something was amiss right then) only to find out it was a fit for Ortho-K lenses. If you are unaware/naïve like I so conveniently was, Ortho- K is an emerging field in which hard contact lenses, and by lenses I mean rocks, are used to reshape your cornea while you sleep at night. Exactly, OUCH!!! After putting the lenses in, I literally refused to open my eyes. I braced the exam chair, crying like a baby, begging the student to “get these things out of my eyes right now.” I did eventually calm down and went on to wear them for a few months.
Though I chose to discontinue wearing them, Ortho-K lenses really are a good option for some patients; I was just being a weenie that day. We all remember, or are currently experiencing, that “I can heal the blind” first-year optometry student feeling. But, with learning these great powers comes great responsibility. My Ortho-K experience was one way I let my eyes take one for the team during my first year, so whether you’re a first or fourth-year, here are some quick tips from my classmates on how to protect your eyes.
Check your script: Make sure your glasses and contact lens prescriptions are correct. It sounds so simple and you may think you are good to go, but you’ll be studying more for each new class than all your undergraduate years put together. It wasn’t until optometry school that I found out that I had been over-minused for years and the correct lenses drastically reduced the number of headaches I was having. If you find out your prescription needs adjustment, take advantage of the free lenses, frames, and contact lenses your school offers! Just remember the word “free” can come with baggage so be an educated guinea pig and by all means, never take them up on it if they offer free Ortho-K. Just kidding!
Know your surroundings (and inflammatory pathways): A lot of us go off to optometry school and find ourselves in a completely new environment than where we grew up. I left what I kindly refer to as the desert out in West Texas and moved to one of the greenest, wettest places, here in Oklahoma. The new scenery was a vision until allergy season rolled around, and then I was definitely not “fine.” My eyes “went rogue,” or at least that’s how the lovely doctor put it. Learn from me; look out for early signs you might be reacting to your new surroundings and take care of your eyes before they become an actual problem.
We all remember,
or are currently experiencing,
that “I can heal the blind”
first-year optometry student feeling.
Take breaks: Learning how to perform retinoscopy makes us all feel like scared little kids to begin with. Driven by fear, my classmates and I wore our eyes out practicing “Ret” prior to the proficiency and actually got worse at it. Don’t be afraid to take a break when practicing, and I personally recommend taking the day before the proficiency off entirely. This goes for study sessions, too.
Avoid the finals week burnout: Don’t exhaust your eyes during finals week like you do your mind. Not only do we put stress on our bodies as a whole this time of year, we also put significant stress on our eyes. Some of the complaints I remember from my classmates during finals week included: blurred vision, headaches, itchy eyes, double vision, and dry eyes. One even reported having triple vision, but I’m still not sure if he was serious or not! Safeguard your eyes during finals week; maybe even consider investing in blue blocking lenses or get some extra plus power to reduce eye fatigue.
Don’t spend too much time behind the phoropter: The phoropter is like our own playground during optometry school. We love spinning those dials and we naturally don’t mind playing the patient either. Although we are elated to help our classmates master their art form, there is nothing quite like having one of your classmates make you see double for a few hours at a time. I, myself, recall unintentionally torturing a few people once we started learning the power of the prism! Be careful how much time you spend back there and try to remember the GoldenRule once you stick a classmate in your chair.
Last, but not least: Don’t let fourth-years torture you with strange contact lenses! Again, I’m just kidding!
The beautiful city of Seattle was home for the 2015 Optometry’s Meeting. The week was full of continuing education programs, networking opportunities, social events and entertainment, and even an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.
Optometrists and students from around the nation came together to celebrate legislative successes for the year, new product lines, and impactful research involved with optometry.
Rob O’Neil, a highly decorated Navy SEAL, kickstarted this year’s Optometry’s Meeting® with a message that inspired the audience to approach each day with passion. O’Neil was involved in many special projects in Afghanistan, consistently putting his life in danger. Using his experiences, he challenged optometrists and students to form a strong team in order to be successful in our practices and profession. He shared stories from the front lines that led the audience to think about daily sacrifice and the importance of placing other people above themselves.
Varilux Optometry Student Bowl XXIV
Every year, the cheering, energy and excitement of Student Bowl makes it an event to remember! This year, the Seattle Seahawk drum line elevated the noise level as the contestants ran through the screaming crowd of student supporters. The T-shirts, costumes, noise makers and school spirit filled the room with energy. PCO’s contestant, Nicole Rist, took home the trophy and $1,000 prize as the winner of the 2015 Student Bowl. For the second year in a row, MCO finished in second place.
While each school tried to outperform the others for the coveted Spirit Award, PUCO took home the honor as the winners of this year’s 2015 Spirit Award. Their massive student section and positive energy helped them secure this highly coveted victory.
To wrap up the Student Bowl, a new event was added to this year’s Optometry’s Meeting®. Students and observers were all given sunglasses to wear for five minutes. To break the Guinness Book of World Record’s Most People Wearing Glasses in the Dark record, 1,500 people were needed. Unfortunately, we were just short of our goal this time…but there is always next year!
In between student events and continuing education courses, students were given the opportunity to explore the exhibit hall. Students could participate in “Sight Quest,” a bingo-style activity that allowed students to familiarize themselves with how to interact with industry and also gave them the opportunity to win great prizes, such as Starbucks gift cards. Various booths were selected and there were designated questions to ask in order to complete the Sight Quest activity.
Continuing Education and Social Events
Other events more specific for students included a HOYA Jeopardy-style game, a practice management session with Mile Brujic, O.D., and David Kading, O.D., as well as a panel of optometrists from various sectors discussing the personality of different modes of practice. In addition to the panel discussion, Luxottica supported a party at the Hard Rock Café. The dueling pianos, free giveaways and socializing on the roof-top terrace made for a memorable night in Seattle.
Saturday morning, runners participated in the 2015 Optometry Cares® 5k Run/Walk in order to raise money for the AOA Foundation. The run took place outside of the city along the scenic Lake Washington as the sun rose over the mountains.
The Celebration of Optometry
To close out Optometry’s Meeting this year, Brian Olsen showed off his incredible painting skills. He finished two incredible pieces, Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, right before our eyes! The Celebration of Optometry was complete after Sinbad made joke after joke related to the life of an optometrist. No one knew it was possible to make so many jokes based on a phoropter and difficult patients!
The audience was brought to tears and laughter thanks to Sinbad’s great humor.
Seattle welcomed us well with plentiful Starbucks and stunning views from the Space Needle. Join us next year for Optometry’s Meeting 2016 in Boston!
In less than one year, AOSA’s Pre-Optometry membership has topped 100 students. When you join, you receive a copy of Foresight, membership certificate and membership card, AOSA lapel pin and an additional gift. And, if you are in a Pre-Optometry Professional Society and join as a group, for every group of 25 students who join, the chapter gets back $250. Learn more at http://www.preoptometry.org!
In the largest issue yet of AOSA’s flagship magazine, student leaders report from all the schools and colleges, we outline the roles of partner organizations throughout the profession, highlight the importance of membership and look at some of the benefits of belonging to THE association for optometry students. Written entirely by your peers in optometry school, Foresight gives you a first-hand look at the future of optometry and the broadest aspects of our profession. Check it out online, or pick up a copy at your school!
SEATTLE — Student leaders of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) at Optometry’s Meeting® June 24-28 added a representative to the American Board of Optometry and approved strong language in support of the American Optometric Association and the state AOA affiliates.
In creating a new National Liaison position to represent the American Board of Optometry, the AOSA brings to 17 the number of national organizations with whom it has formal ties.
In an address to the AOA House of Delegates, AOSA President Hunter Chapman of Southern College of Optometry announced the AOSA Board has continued to mobilize support for AOA membership.
“At this meeting, the AOSA Board has approved a change to our mission statement that shows our collective commitment to AOA’s advocacy and membership efforts,” Chapman told the AOA House on June 27. “Thank you to the AOA Board and State Affiliate Leaders for your inspiration. Our new mission statement is as follows, ‘The purpose of the American Optometric Student Association is to improve the visual welfare and health of the public, to promote the profession of optometry, and life-long commitment to the AOA and AOA State Affiliates, and to enhance the education and welfare of optometry students.’”
The meeting was also the site of the largest student competition in optometry, the Varilux® Optometry Student Bowl. Nicole Rist of Pennsylvania College of Optometry took top honors, competing against students representing all 23 schools and colleges of optometry. The 24th annual competition showcased student knowledge and team spirit in a fast-paced battle of wits. Pacific University College of Optometry won the coveted Spirit Award and MCPHS University College of Optometry garnered the favorite t-shirt. The Virtual Spirit Award for best social media went to NSU-Oklahoma College of Optometry.
Other student achievements were honored during the AOSA’s General Session, sponsored by HOYA, where Brooke M. Harkness (Pacific University College of Optometry) and Emily M. Korszen (Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry) received the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Norman Wallis Award for attaining the top scores in Part 1 of the National Boards.
Student creative achievements were honored by Allergan, awarding 100 travel grants to the AOSA members who best used photography to illustrate the discomfort of dry eye. More than 300 photos were submitted in the first-of-its-kind competition.
More than 100 students also went hands-on with scleral lenses in a debut event at the meeting, workshops hosted by Valley Contax.
At the AOSA General Session, hosted by HOYA, the AOSA presented its Founders’ Award to Mark Risher of Allergan and the Merit Award to Julie Trute of AOA-PAC.