Second and third year students at ICO are required to volunteer at a vision screening once a year. These screenings are often at health fairs held around the city, which are attended by individuals who may not be able to get eye exams regularly elsewhere. All throughout first year, we received emails about vision screenings, though we were not yet required to participate. When Dr. Wyles emailed us about a volunteer opportunity last weekend, I decided to sign up alongside my fellow second year Julie Minix and 10 third years.
The vision screening took place on the campus of ICO’s neighbor, IIT, at the 10th annual Health, Fitness and Fun Fair, hosted by Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter. While we provided free vision screenings, other organizations provided health and wellness screenings, massages and haircuts. There was plenty of entertainment at the fair including dancing, a hula hoop contest and performances by the South Shore Drill Team and the Jesse White Tumblers. A balloon launch to salute survivors and victims of breast cancer opened the fair.
I dressed for the event by pairing a light and airy blouse with maroon slacks, topped off with my white coat. Since the fair was outdoors in the summer sun, dressing light was key. Each of us had to bring our own equipment including diagnostic kits, color plates, stereo book with glasses, near point targets, prism bars, occluder, near VA chart and pupil gauge. For distance visual acuity, we brought along two standing acuity charts.
We arrived on location before the start time to assemble the screening equipment, set up different stations and divvy up the eye exams among ourselves. My task for the day was entrance testing, which meant near VA, cover test, pupils, and EOMs for adults and additionally color, stereo and NPC for children. After visiting each station, patients went over their eye exam with our attending doctor, Dr. George Hanna, and were told if they passed or failed our screening. In all, we saw around 50 or so patients.
The third years mentioned that a number of students often wait until the end of the year to complete their vision screening requirement, making it harder to find an open opportunity. Having volunteered before the start of fall quarter, Julie and I were happy to have completed this single commitment before we’re bogged down by classes and exams.
This fall, all second years will serve as student clinicians in the IEI’s Primary Care Program, commonly known as PCP. Working in pairs, we will be conducting as much as we can in a full eye exam, up to what we’ve learned. Volunteering at the fair was a nice warm-up for PCP. Alongside it, we have a shift in the Eyewear Center and six courses this quarter: Pharmacology, Binocular Vision, Ocular Motility, Ophthalmic Optics, Ocular Physiology and Optometry 2.1. It’s a packed schedule, but at least we only have two exams each week–a nice change from the occasional three-exam weeks of last year.
With classes resuming next week, I’m filled with mixed emotions. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and colleagues, learning new material and practicing in clinic. I guess the only thing I’m dreading is the unending slew of exams. But then aren’t we all?