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NECO Event Explores Role of New Technologies in Optometry

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(PRESS RELEASE) When the auto-refractor was first introduced, many optometrists were worried this new technology would make their profession obsolete. Fast forward to 2017 and new technologies are entering the field of optometry at a dizzying pace. Today, consumers can access smart-phone apps for anything from refraction and ordering glasses and contacts online at any time of day. Optometrists find themselves at a crossroads with new technologies.

“You need to look at the disruptive technologies and understand the value they can bring to your practice,” urged Howard Purcell, OD ’84, senior vice president, Essilor of America, as he kicked off the Sunday Series CE event “Technology: Advancing the Diagnostic Focus” at New England College of Optometry on Dec. 3.

Purcell was joined at the continuing education event by Tom Petito, OD, director of professional relations, Marco Ophthalmics, and Thomas Wong, OD, chief of adult and pediatric primary care, assistant clinical professor, SUNY College of Optometry. Through a series of presentations, the group discussed the evolving trends and technology in healthcare to a packed room of NECO alumni and friends. 

Purcell presented the keynote, “The Practice of the Future,” and challenged optometrists to cautiously embrace the opportunities that technology presents while still being cognizant of the issues and challenges involved. “It’s time we use technology to optimize the patient experience and a patient’s vision,” noted Purcell, explaining that people today want to be better than normal. Patients expect all professions to integrate technology into their practice to create a better user experience.  These tools can include VR, 3D printing, and instantaneous knowledge impact their patient experience in the optometrists office and at home. He explained that the future of the exam room will inevitably change, as optometrists immerse the patient in their own world to better learn about their particular needs.  He also discussed the evolution of wearable technology to bring easier ways to access increasingly complicated information and the role of telemedicine to the health care industry. 

Tim Petito, OD, and Thomas Wong, OD, discussed “The Future Eye Exam: Eye Care Analytics and Medical Imaging.”  Petito presented a historical look at optometry, payment models, managed care, insurance and policies to help attendees better understand the current marketplace. He noted that the same data can be presented in different ways depending on the audience and the perspective. Moving forward, he explained that optometrists have a responsibility to take control of marketing the profession into the future as they communicate their role in overall health.  As current methods become obsolete with new technologies, optometrists can not only utilize these tools to maximize people’s optical systems, but help the consumers better understand how these improve their quality of life.

Wong encouraged the CE participants to make a paradigm shift from linear thinking to digital thinking. He noted the influx of information coming towards people and the need to sift through the data to find more efficient ways to do things. “OCTs have changed our world in terms of glaucoma care,” he explained, as well as other technologies that improve care. However, he urged optometrists to use a combination of both high tech and low tech devices, noting that quality, effective care should be the goal, regardless of the tools used. 

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Despite the proliferation of new technologies, Wong echoed Purcell’s comments on maintaining the human element within the optometric practice.  “Our optometric care begins where technology ends,” he explained.  As a professor at SUNY, Wong noted how new technologies have influenced and changed how he teaches.  “Using new technologies and working with students allows me to be more problem focused,” he noted. In doing so, he has become concentrated on improving patient outcomes, recognizing that optometrists may let go of some of the traditional tests from an eye exam and focus more on the tests an individual patient really needs.  He encouraged practitioners to rethink their own optometric practices, using new and emerging refractive technologies to measure visual information, utilizing 3D imagery to see aberrations, analyzing objective data to provide better care, and ideating to understand the user experience. 

Wong and Petito led the afternoon session, “Making the Most of Technology in Eye Care.” The expert panel of speakers addressed the important elements surrounding implementation of technology into a primary care practice, highlighting the importance of developing new practice management strategies to accommodate the emerging model of comprehensive care. Ultimately, the presenters reminded the attendees that optometry is a field that has always thrived on new technologies – from the development of first lenses to bifocals and contact lenses, to laser surgery and new retinal imaging tests. All three urged the optometrists in attendance to find ways to embrace the changes to meet market demand and become better practitioners.

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SUNY Optometry Announces Scholarships

It awarded nearly $125,000 to 40 students at annual scholarship presentation.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – As part of its commitment to helping students achieve their professional goals and meet the cost of financing their education, SUNY College of Optometry recognized more than 40 students at the annual Scholarship Presentation. Scholarships, which were provided by the Optometric Center of New York – the college’s related foundation – and its donors, ranged from $1,000 to $5,500 totaling nearly $125,000 for the evening.

The event, coordinated by the Office of Institutional Advancement, brings students, their families, and donors together for an evening of celebration and recognition of students’ accomplishments. For more than 10 years, SUNY Optometry has held this event, benefitting hundreds of students. In that time, the number of scholarships presented has grown significantly from 11 to 40.

“Investing in our students extends beyond educating and training future optometrists; we also feel a commitment to ensure educational opportunities are provided to bright students who may otherwise not be able to pursue their dream. Thanks to our benefactors, these scholarships ease the burden of financing a doctor of optometry degree, allowing these students to focus more on becoming future leaders in the field,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dawn Rigney.

According to Dr. Guiherme Albieri, vice president of student affairs at SUNY College of Optometry, “These scholarships also offer a competitive edge to attract more students from across the nation to SUNY Optometry, knowing that they will be able to fully engage in the innovative education and clinical experience that we offer.”

Below is a listing of the scholarships and recipients for the 2019-20 academic year:

  • Mary and Samuel Gurkin Memorial Scholarship
    Constadina Manettas Class of 2020
  • Philip & Sylvia Soden Memorial Scholarship
    Rebecca Heaps Class of 2020
  • Dr. Mark S. Feder Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Primary Care
    Halima Khan Class of 2020
  • New York State Optometric Association Dr. Alden Haffner Scholarship
    Carey Murzynski Class of 2021
    Angela Wen Class of 2021
  • New Jersey Academy of Optometry Scholarship
    Veena Bokka Class of 2023
  • Dr. Sanford and Claire Levy Scholarship
    Elaine Doxtaer Class of 2023
    Ivanna Grynyk Class of 2021
    Prissilla Issa Class of 2020
    Alicia Jones Class of 2020
    Nichole Pollard Class of 2020
  • Dr. Harold Solan Memorial Scholarship
    Raymond Farmer Class of 2021
  • Jeff White Memorial Scholarship
    Melissa Levine Class of 2021
  • Harold M. Spielman Scholarship
    Eden Nourmand Class of 2023
  • Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarship
    Anthony Boyd Class of 2021
    Shuyi Chen Class of 2021
    Holly Knoechel Class of 2021
  • Dennis and Lesley Gehr Scholarship
    Preya Balroop Class of 2023
  • Alumni Association Scholarships
    Natalie Duider Class of 2023
    Nazia Tahia Class of 2023
    Nina Shimunov Class of 2023
  • P. Gregory Hess Scholarship
    Sam Lee Class of 2020
  • Dr. Jerome Weiss Scholarship
    Peiwei Lo Class of 2022
  • Dr. Nathan and Laura Millman Scholarship
    Jared Rahn Class of 2022
    Stephanie Schwartz Class of 2022
    Aviela Segev Class of 2022
    Stephanie Yu Class of 2022
    Julie Song Class of 2022
  • Barbara Saltzman Scholarship
    Gabrielah Baruch Class of 2023
  • Fred Friedfeld Memorial Scholarship
    Calvin Chan Class of 2022
  • Milton Scholarship
    Stefanie Clendaniel Class of 2020
    Amanda Crane Class of 2020
    Brooke Goonetilleke Class of 2022
    Holly Knoechel Class of 2021
    Melody Kordnaij Class of 2022
    Rhea Magee Class of 2021
    Max Paschall-Zimbel Class of 2020
  • Joseph A. Morra, MD Memorial Award
    Mackenzie Chapman Class of 2023
    Caroline Donato Class of 2023
    Jacob Rosenberg Class of 2023

To learn more about the Scholarship Awards or to establish a scholarship, contact Dawn Rigney, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at drigney@sunyopt.edu.

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American Diabetes Association and VSP Vision Care Collaborate to Save Sight for People with Diabetes

The campaign will raise awareness of the role eye exams can play in early detection and prevention of diabetes-related eye disease.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ARLINGTON, VA – The American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced a new collaboration with VSP Vision Care, a VSP Global company which serves nearly 90 million members as the largest and only national not-for-profit vision benefits provider, to focus on an often overlooked but costly and devastating complication of diabetes: eye disease. This initiative will focus on the crucial role annual comprehensive eye exams play in the early detection, intervention and prevention of eye disease and vision loss caused by diabetes.

“Diabetic eye disease is one of the complications of diabetes, affecting a third or more of people with diabetes over age 40,” said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “Fortunately, we can effectively manage and even prevent diabetic eye disease with early detection and treatment. With VSP, we are positioned to make this happen. Preventing these complications is key!”

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There are 30 million American adults living with diabetes. Another 84 million are living with prediabetes, yet 90% of them don’t know they have it. People living with diabetes or prediabetes face increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working age adults. The cost of diabetes to individuals and society continues to skyrocket, with an economic burden on the healthcare system in the United States estimated at $139 billion for vision related disorders alone. For those living with diabetes, an annual eye exam is a must – offering a simple way to prevent or delay disease and vision loss caused by diabetes.

The new eye health initiative will be multi-pronged in order to meet all those affected by or at risk for diabetes related eye disease. The initiative will include concerted efforts to:

  • Raise awareness and provide actions for those who may be at risk for a diabetes related eye disease;
  • Provide patient support and education to those affected by it; and
  • Educate healthcare professionals about diabetes related eye disease and how to prevent it

“The diabetes epidemic affects the daily lives of millions of Americans and adds to an already strained healthcare system looking for solutions,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “With the delay in diagnosis being one of the most pressing problems still to be solved with diabetes, together with the American Diabetes Association, we’re committed to raising awareness of the crucial role an optometrist plays as an accessible part of a person’s healthcare team, providing a pathway to early detection and ongoing management of disease.”

The new eye health initiative will be launching in 2020 as part of the ADA’s Overcoming Therapeutic Inertia campaign to accelerate care, treatment and early intervention to improve the lives of people living with and those caring for people with diabetes. Additional campaign resources and updates will be released in the coming months.

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Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle Announce Donation of Custom Training Modules Using Recycled Contact Lens Materials to Guide Dog Foundation

Benches, tables, waste stations and an agility ramp will help train guide dogs for the blind or visually impaired.

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(PRESS RELEASE) BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Bausch + Lomb, a leading global eye health company, in collaboration with TerraCycle, a world leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, announces the donation of custom training modules to the Guide Dog Foundation, a national not-for-profit that trains guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired. The training modules, including benches, tables, waste stations and an agility ramp, were made from used contact lens materials collected through the Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling Program, the first and only contact lens recycling program of its kind in the United States, along with other recycled material.

The training modules will be presented to the Guide Dog Foundation at its headquarters in Smithtown, N.Y., and will be utilized in the training of guide dogs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired as well as helping to further enhance the campus for those who visit.

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“The ONE by ONE Recycling program and our collaboration with TerraCycle is representative of our company’s long-standing commitment to sustainability. With this donation, we’re taking this program one step further, bringing new life to these materials by supporting the work of the Guide Dog Foundation, an organization that provides sight through the magnificent work of guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said John Ferris, general manager, U.S. Vision Care, Bausch + Lomb.

“We are grateful for the efforts of Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle in reducing the environmental waste of contact lenses while also making this critical donation to help improve the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired,” said John Miller, CEO, Guide Dog Foundation. “These training modules will be a wonderful addition to our training facility where our instructors train guide dogs the significant skills and tasks they need to increase the independence and mobility for people living with these conditions.”

Since its inception in Nov. 2016, the ONE by ONE Recycling program has collected nearly 16 million used contact lenses, blister packs and top foils, which equates to more than 95,000 pounds of waste, making a significant impact on reducing the waste associated with contact lens use, especially daily disposable lenses. The donation to the Guide Dog Foundation is in recognition of this milestone and in commemoration of America Recycles Day (Friday, Nov. 15, 2019), the program’s third anniversary.

“We are delighted to celebrate America Recycles Day and the third anniversary of the Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling program through the donation of these materials to the Guide Dog Foundation,” said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO, TerraCycle. “Before the ONE by ONE Recycling program, contact lenses were one of the forgotten waste streams that were often overlooked due to their size. In the three years since the implementation of the program, we’ve seen positive momentum from contact lens wearers who continue to use this program. Together we are helping to preserve our environment and transitioning these materials back into the world in a positive way – it’s a win-win for all.”

The ONE by ONE Recycling program encourages contact lens wearers to bring their used contact lenses and packaging to any one of the more than 4,200 participating eye care professionals’ offices to recycle them in custom recycling bins provided by Bausch + Lomb. Once the recycling bins are full, the optometry practice mails the materials to TerraCycle using a free shipping label from www.bauschrecycles.com. The materials are then received by TerraCycle, where the metal layers of the blister packs are recycled separately, while the contact lenses and plastic blister pack components are melted into plastic. These materials can then be remolded into new recycled products, such as the training modules donated to the Guide Dog Foundation.

In addition to the training module donation made to the Guide Dog Foundation, the ONE by ONE Recycling Program donates $10 to Optometry Giving Sight, the only global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision by providing eye exams and glasses to those in need, for every 10 pounds of contact lens waste collected from participating ONE by ONE recycling centers.

The donation to the Guide Dog Foundation was funded through the Bausch Foundation (www.bauschfoundation.org), which was established in 2017 to improve the lives of patients globally by providing access to safe, effective medicines and by financially supporting health care education and causes around the world.

For more information on the Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling program, visit www.bauschrecycles.com

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