Second year of optometry school has many perks: fewer quarter exams, more afternoons off, fewer labs, and more time with patients–both in clinic and the dispensary. I’m loving second year in general but the highlight so far has to be the Ocular Prosthetics elective that I am taking this quarter.
You not know that the Illinois Eye Institute has an ocularist, Patrick Adkins, who works in the Cornea and Contact Lens clinic on Thursday afternoons. During the rest of the week, he works at his clinic in the suburb of Des Plaines, where he hand creates prosthetic eyes in his lab using plastic that he makes himself by combining raw polymers and monomers.
One of my classmates and I are lucky enough to have the opportunity for five weeks to work with Mr. Adkins on Thursdays. Patients coming to see Mr. Adkins at the IEI have already been fitted with a prosthesis at his clinic; at the IEI they can have their prosthesis cleaned, re-polished and/or refitted.
My responsibilities these afternoons include taking patient history, checking the visual acuity and responsiveness of their good eye (if they are monocular), and assessing how their prosthesis looks and feels.
A patient’s right eye. This particular patient wore a prosthesis in both eyes and also happened to be deaf. She and her translator were incredibly sweet and inspirational.
Seeing is Believing 2013, the first EVER virtual optometry conference, is taking place tomorrow and Wednesday, January 30 and 31. As an attendee, you get to visit exhibitors and sponsors at their virtual booths, chat with other attendees, and listen to guest speakers all in the comfort of your own home. And the great thing about it is that registration is free for students! Apparently, ICO has the most students registered for the event so far, which means that someone from ICO will likely win an iPad. I also registered to attend, but for a completely different reason (although an iPad would be nice).
The Core Leadership Team for OptometryStudents.com will be present during the conference as guest speakers and as exhibitors. As the site’s director of creative content, I’ll be manning our virtual booth along with other members of the OS team to answer questions on Thursday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. CST. This will be my very first optometry conference and I’m a little relieved that it’s going to be online. I need to ease myself in, especially when I’ve never attended a conference before (I will be attending at least three more this year, two with the OS team!).
I hope everyone had a nice relaxing holiday. I was back home in Ottawa (check out the awesome New Year’s fireworks above) and I came to realize how spoiled I’ve been by the mild Chicago weather. Yes, I said “mild,” because there was no snow when I left Chicago. I forgot how brutal Canadian winters can be and as a result, I slept in a lot when I was home. I’m going to regret it later once our twice-a-week-8 a.m.-exams start up again, but it’s so hard not to when it looks like “snowmageddon” outside.
I spent a lot of time holed up in my room trying to come up with a list of resolutions for 2013. Every year I come up with at least five things that I want to accomplish and last year, I managed to accomplish four out of the five, which was a record for me. This year, my biggest resolution is to accomplish all of my resolutions, one of which is to attend at least three optometry meetings. If I can win travel grants, I hope to attend even more.
Throughout the year, the optometry community hosts dozens of meetings and conferences that take place all over the U.S. and Canada, and many are open to students. Below are some meetings and conferences that I’m interested in attending:
Last week, first years learned to do direct ophthalmoscopy in optometry lab. We had to get very comfortable with each other very quickly, and forget all about our personal bubbles as we sat staring at a distant “E” in a dimly lit exam lane in the Eyepod, waiting as a classmate approached with a bright light, inching closer and closer until our faces almost touched. You’re gazing into each other’s eyes as they tell you to “look at the light” so that they could check your foveal reflex. And then you get all tense as they maneuver themselves to get a better view, getting ever closer. It sounds kinda romantic until they step back and say, “Did anyone ever tell you that you have scaly-looking things?”
After five months, I realized that you end up having to divulge a lot of information about yourself in optometry school and in turn, you learn a lot about your fellow classmates. Sometimes, you find out more than you thought you needed to know, like how your TA has congenital cataracts or how that classmate over there has a family history of diabetes. Oftentimes, you’ll learn a great deal more about yourself too. I learned that I have superficial punctate keratitis (SPK), aka those “scaly-looking things,” because of dry eye.
I was told before coming to ICO that I would be spending approximately $3,000 on equipment. I was skeptical at first, but they weren’t kidding. Here is a break down of the equipment that I purchased so far:
1. Heine BETA Set 3 + Heine G5 Family Practice Kit
Between Welch Allyn, Keeler, and Heine, I decided to go with Heine. Before buying, you get the opportunity to “test” the equipment offered by each company to see which set feels more comfortable. They vary in handle size, grip, attachments, etc., but everyone’s kit, no matter which company you decide to go with, will come with an ophthalmoscope, a retinoscope, and a transilluminator at the very least. You can customize your set too. Each company offers a number of options to choose from.
My set included an ophthalmoscope, a retinscope, a transilluminator, retinscope cards, two lithium battery handles (with a battery level indicator on the bottom of both handles, which is optional, at an additional price), a charger, a battery adapter and a zipper case.
The family practice kit came with a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, and two spare cuffs (one adult and one child size). In total (taxes included), this entire set from Heine cost me $1,245.78. And this was with the student discount.