We resumed classes this week following a two-week winter break. Whenever winter break comes around, one of my best friends and I always meet up to do something seasonal. Nine times out of ten, that wintery activity is ice skating followed by lunch and maybe a side of shopping. This year, we made plans to check out Maggie Daley Park, just east of Millennium Park.
Maggie Daley Park opened on Dec. 13 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It was named in honor of the late wife of Chicago’s former longtime mayor, Richard M. Daley. The 20-acre park features a winding “skating ribbon.” With a surface area of 27,500 square feet of ice, it’s nearly twice the size of a traditional rink and makes for a great race course.
One of the best things about the IEI is its comprehensive service offerings. A patient who is diagnosed with angle closure glaucoma on the first floor in Primary Care can take the elevator up to the second floor and receive laser treatment in Advanced Care. During third year, you’ll learn just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about glaucoma. You’ll learn about all the flavors and forms it comes in, who it affects, what factors put an individual at risk, and how to analyze endless visual fields and scans of the optic nerve and nerve fiber layer.
What is glaucoma? Short definition, it’s a blinding eye disease that clinically manifests as damage to the optic nerve and retina, causing a gradual loss of vision that begins peripherally and ends centrally. A lot of the time, this damage to the optic nerve and retinal tissue is due to high intraocular pressure. At this point, my classmates and I have had Glaucoma I and II. I feel confident in my knowledge of glaucoma and rumor has it, it’s one of the few sections on NBEO exams that everyone answers unhesitatingly.
Most commonly, glaucoma is managed with the use of pharmaceutical eye drops that work to decrease intraocular pressure and hopefully halt or slow progression of the disease. Less known is that glaucoma can also be managed with laser and surgical treatments. At the IEI, laser treatment is offered in office. The two main used laser treatments for glaucoma are laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). LPI is used for angle closure glaucoma and SLT is used for open angle glaucoma.
During third year at ICO, students have the opportunity to join this great organization called the Contact Lens and Cornea Society. CLCS hosts numerous events throughout the year. During Lunch & Learns, the latest information in the field is presented; there are also workshops, when we get to practice fitting patients with different types of lenses.
Throughout first and second year, I remember walking by the second floor entrance to the Lecture Center and being curious about the regular occurrence of long tables covered with catered food. Now as a member of this elite society, I’m enjoying the eats while expanding my knowledge about contact lens and cornea. It’s honestly a win-win.
We’ve had a couple of Lunch & Learns so far, as well as a workshop. During one of the Lunch & Learns I learned all about Prokera, an innovative biological bandage tissue made of cryopreserved amniotic tissue. Prokera is superior to a basic bandage contact lens (BCL) because it promotes wound healing while reducing inflammation. Additionally, it can be used on corneas that have been infected, while basic BCLs cannot be. It’s a great concept and one whose suggestion in clinic may earn an approving nod. Maybe even a couple of 5’s on clinic evaluations. Anything is possible.
The first workshop CLCS hosted was on fitting soft toric lenses. The top four contact lens manufacturers partook in the event and representatives from each told us about the latest from their brand and helped guide our selections. The workshop began with breakfast and an illuminating address from guest speaker Dr. Rhonda Robinson. We learned about the benefits of making contact lenses a part of our future practices and how important it is to recommend contacts to patients who would be good candidates.
Everyone says that the hardest aspects of third year are summer quarter and retina. But for me, fall quarter (which just wrapped up) was an endless struggle to stay afloat. I remembered summer quarter fondly and I wanted nothing more than to get away. Two weeks ago was fall break–there were no classes to attend, but we still have clinic. When I completed my clinic shifts, I boarded an early flight to the East Coast, where I met up with one of my brothers for a mini-vacation. And it was great. We drove into New York City and spent a couple of precious days sight-seeing and touring the great metropolis. It was my first time in New York, and what struck me was just how expansive and endless Manhattan is. Upon returning to Chicago, I couldn’t help but realize how tiny my own city seemed in comparison.
The Woolworth Building on 5th Avenue facing Central Park and the legendary Plaza Hotel
Left: The never ending skyscraper strewn avenue. Right: …filled with endless yellow NYC taxis
As another academic year comes to a close, schedules for the first quarter of third year have been emailed out. Unlike the summer between first and second years, when students have the luxury of going home or taking exotic vacations, this summer will be a working one. My classmates and I will be attending class and we’ll also have three shifts in clinic, a continuation of the Patient Care Program we began this year.
Our two Primary Care shifts will be similar to our experience in this service area thus far, the primary difference being that we’ll no longer be paired with a partner. In addition to working alone, we’ll also be caring for multiple patients during a single shift. During my work in clinic this year, I’ve grown accustomed to discussing tests and patients’ results with my partner. I loved the convenience of having someone scribe while I doctored, or doctor while I scribed. If I had a question about a condition, I always had someone to ask. If I couldn’t find my tiny tonometry probe, there was someone in the same room with one. But my comfort level aside, I’m actually looking forward to going solo. I’ll be forced to rely on myself and truly develop my clinical skills.