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ODU/EVMS Ophthalmic Technology Students Hone Vision Screening Skills While Providing Needed Service to Campus Communities

Picture of First year Ophthalmic Technology student Magda Torres performs a vision screening on new EVMS President Richard Homan.First year Ophthalmic Technology student Magda Torres performs a vision screening on new EVMS President Richard Homan.

Students of the joint Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School Ophthalmic Technology Program are practicing their skills while providing a needed service at the same time. From now through May, they are offering free vision screenings to faculty, staff and students of the two institutions.

During a recent accreditation site visit, new EVMS president Dr. Richard V. Homan took advantage of the initiative and had his vision screened by first-year student Magda Torres. Dr. Donald Combs, dean of the EVMS School of Health Professions, also participated.

Vision screenings are held in 2006 Lewis Hall on the EVMS campus. Coming from ODU, participants should take Colley Avenue and turn right on Olney Road; the parking garage is on the left. When exiting the garage, walk to the right; Lewis Hall is across the street by the fountain.

Appointments are recommended and may be made by calling 446-5104. Vision screenings do not include prescriptions for glasses or contacts, as the program is not licensed to provide that service.

"The College of Health Sciences at ODU is delighted to be a partner with EVMS to offer one of the country's few ophthalmic technology degree programs," said Shelley Mishoe, dean of the college. "We are fortunate that Lori Wood, a 1997 graduate of the program, is serving as program director to provide leadership in addressing forward-thinking opportunities."

Wood explained that the idea for the vision screenings came about as a way to provide patients for students who needed to practice their refraction skills. As a result, "the phone started ringing off the hook and emails piled in," she said.

"It is a win-win for everyone," Wood continued. "Students practice skills, employees have a needed service at work and the technology program gains more exposure."

Ophthalmic technology is a subspecialty within the field of ophthalmology, a branch of medicine that studies and treats eye-related disorders and diseases. The ODU/EVMS program has been accredited since 1985 by the Commission on Accreditation for Ophthalmic Medical Programs. It is one of only five programs in the country and one of only two that offer a Bachelor of Science degree.

Graduates of the ODU/EVMS Ophthalmic Technology Program are trained alongside ophthalmology residents at EVMS for 22 months. Students participate in all residency clinics and many lectures in the residency series while also attending approximately 400 hours of "tech" lectures. In addition, several externships provide practical experiences and include contact lens fitting, pediatrics, surgical assisting and low vision.

"The increasing health care needs of our aging population and changes in health care delivery, which shift responsibility for many routine procedures in the ophthalmic medical practice from the physician to highly trained support staff, have resulted in great demand for graduates from our program in ophthalmic technology. The ODU/EVMS program is among the best in the country," said Roy C. Ogle, professor and chair of the School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences in the ODU College of Health Sciences.

For more information about the ODU/EVMS Ophthalmic Technology Program, visit the EVMS website.