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Optometry Students and Lasers: In a Pig’s Eye!

Optometry Students and Lasers: In a Pig’s Eye!

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

Alas, NBEO board exams have come and gone. My classmates and I are free again. Free from studying at all hours of the day and night without end. Except, we’re not free. At any moment, we’re haunted by the bone-chilling thought of having failed boards. But that aside, life is pretty great right now.

After those two dreaded days of exams, we picked up where we left off and spring quarter classes began. In our last quarter here at ICO, we are taking four classes:  Injections for the Optometrist, Business of Optometry, Strabismus & Amblyopia II, and Ophthalmic Lasers. Back when spring quarter had began and we were off for a month to study for boards, my classmates and I got a taste of Ophthalmic Lasers during an evening workshop with TLC. TLC is a company of ophthalmologists and optometrists providing eye surgery and LASIK in Mid-Michigan and Northwest Ohio. TLC providers specialize in “cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears and detachments, eye infections, and laser vision correction.”

The event with TLC brought in optometrists and technicians that taught us how to perform a number of refractive laser procedures complete with hands-on demonstrations. In some states, namely Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma, optometrists can perform these laser procedures.

In our gymnasium, stations were set up to teach three techniques. The first station that I visited was set up to teach corneal epithelium removal, an initial set in PRK. In PRK surgery, the corneal epithelium is removed and then the corneal stroma is treated with laser. Once an overview of the technique was given, I gloved up to perform epithelium removal on pig eyes. Since pig eyes are pretty similar to human eyes, the simulation was great and comparable to doing the procedures on real patients.

The second station I visited demonstrated how to create a flap for Lasik using a femtosecond laser. During Lasik, a flap is made from corneal epithelium, then laser is applied to correct refractive error and the flap is laid back down. Like in the first station, we carried out the procedures using pig eyes. While we used the more precise femtosecond laser to create the flap, corneal flaps can also be made mechanically using a device called a microkeratome. In a way, the last station I visited finished the story. While listening to an ICO grad talk about his own experience working at TLC, one by one we got the opportunity to apply the corrective excimer laser to pig eyes that already had flaps created.

All in all, the workshop was pretty neat. We learned a lot about refractive surgery techniques and how to perform them ourselves. And if time takes any of us to places like KY, LA or OK, performing these skills will be well within our scope of practice. Now that boards are done and classes have resumed for us, we’re learning the intricacies of how lasers work, about the multitude of other lasers used in eye care, and much more.


Work station for corneal epithelium removal 


A closer look at the days old pig eye and our instruments of choice


Work station for femtosecond laser guided epithelial flap creation 

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Private Practice Club Dinner

Private Practice Club Dinner

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Blogs | 1 comment

“Surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses.” “Focus on what you’re good at.” These tokens were just two of the many pieces of advice given by William Montag to a group of students at the Hilton. Montag, a certified financial planner at the North Star Resource Group, hosted a dinner presentation on finances for members of Private Practice Club.

The PPC plans numerous events each year for students to learn about the important aspects of owning a private practice as well as the trials and successes that current owners have experienced. Through the club, I’ve listened to optometrists talk about their experiences and visited practices. The event hosted by Montag was a little different and made for a fun new experience, as a group of 25 of us attended a fancy dinner presentation at 720 South Bar and Grill. We received folders filled with spreadsheets, charts and checklists addressing the important financial aspects of owning a private practice, and what steps we can take now to achieve that goal. Montag took questions from the group as he gave his presentation. The event was informative and the dinner was delicious. At the end, students could schedule a one-on-one session with Montag about finances.


Dinner Menu + Program folder


Left: Bartlet pear Salad. Right: Salmon Spaetzle

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The Wonders of Winter

The Wonders of Winter

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

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.

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Glaucoma and Lasers

Glaucoma and Lasers

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blogs | 0 comments

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.

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“We’re tweakers. We tweak all day long.”

“We’re tweakers. We tweak all day long.”

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Blogs | 2 comments

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.

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