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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.

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Work station for corneal epithelium removal 

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

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Work station for femtosecond laser guided epithelial flap creation 

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House Of ICO: Act like Matadors

House Of ICO: Act like Matadors

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

If for some reason you aren’t a fan of House of Cards (yet), you must have noticed the hundreds of posts, quizzes and memes take over your feeds when the new season was released about a month ago. My friends and I may or may not have binge-watched the 13 episodes over a weekend (we HAD to finish before exams started!). The show is a reference point for some pretty important life lessons (for example, never trust politicians). So, I got to thinking, how does House of Cards relate to optometry students? Can I learn anything from Frank Underwood?

“If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table”. Optometry school is like politics. The student body is the House, and the faculty is Congress. We work together to find the best possible solutions to problems when they arise. Now, we don’t have 160 first year students ambushing the professors, but our class representatives do a great job making sure our voices are being heard. In fact, Dr. Mothersbaugh and Dr. Ittner decided to make changes early on–within the first two weeks of spring quarter–based on the feedback we gave.

“There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?” I doubt anyone at ICO is trying to be vice president of the United States, but imagine if he had said, “there are two types of optometrists: doormats and matadors.” ICO isn’t teaching us to be doormat optometrists; they expect us to come here and act like matadors. If we don’t understand something, we practice and ask questions until we get it. Besides, who wants a doormat as their eye doctor?

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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.

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Dinner Menu + Program folder

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Left: Bartlet pear Salad. Right: Salmon Spaetzle

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Practicing for Practicals: Who Makes the Best Patients?

Practicing for Practicals: Who Makes the Best Patients?

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

With the next round of lab practicals inching closer, we first years must decide on how to study. There are basically four options: practicing with our classmates, practicing with family and friends, reading over the syllabus/rubric for the lab practical, and just winging it. The last two options aren’t good ones. Even though we have been practicing in lab, we’re not prepared for the pressure of someone breathing down your neck and grading you. Which means we need to decide who we’re going to practice on.

Practicing with Classmates

Pros
Tips and feedback: Other OD students may do something in a different (better) way and can help you on the areas that you are struggling with. They also (hopefully) know the rubric and can let you know what you missed.

No explanations: While you have to tell them why you are performing something, they won’t ask you a million questions about every little thing.

Time: They won’t take as long to answer questions, as they know you’re being timed and will make it about the same level of difficulty as the actual practical.

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Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Blogs | 5 comments

I’m going to write about a very touchy subject here.

I come from Toronto (in the magical land of Canada). Before I left, I spoke to my girlfriend about how hard it would be to maintain our relationship. I had heard from friends in optometry school that long distance relationships  were especially stressful in first year because of its difficulty. I wanted to make sure that we could work things out–that we would see each other as much as possible in between quarters and reunite at the end of these four years as if nothing had come between us.

When I left her the night before my plane took off, we both knew that it would be difficult. We felt we were ready to put in the necessary work to make things work.

A lot of people talk about how difficult it is to maintain a long distance relationship, but no one really talks about it in detail. A lot of long distance relationships work out–but for me, it hasn’t all gone according to plan.

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