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Infant Eye Exams

Infant Eye Exams

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Blogs | 2 comments

In our Vision Science class during first year, Dr. Pang and Dr. Allison stopped by and perform eye exams on our professor’s three young grandchildren.

For a baby, the eye exam starts the moment the doctor walks into the room: The clinician pays close attention to the baby, watching the child as they look at the doctor, look at their parents, shift their gaze around the room, etc. Even at three months of age, a baby should be able to track an object up to 10 inches from them; if not, there may be an indication of a neurological deficiency. The best time to do an infant eye exam is first thing in the morning, when the baby is wide awake, fed and ready for their day.

Visual attention is an important cue and the baby should be able to follow an object or person moving around the room. In our class, the babies were six months and six weeks of age, and I can imagine that their attention was difficult to monitor with all the faces in the class looking at them. Watching the baby track an object, such as a bottle or rattle, is very important. Because a baby is a non-verbal patient at this point, the parents will become the key source of information and will usually notice if something seems not quite right; most commonly they’ll notice either an eye turn, or that the eyes aren’t tracking objects well.

Teller acuity cards, www.stereooptical.com

Teller acuity cards, www.stereooptical.com

How a baby’s vision quality is assessed
The traditional procedures for determining visual acuity can’t be used on a baby for obvious reasons–they can’t exactly tell you which one is better? One or two? An interesting way the profession has gotten around this is through the use of Teller acuity cards. The card has two sections: One section has a striped pattern, known as gratings, that varies from card to card; the other section is a uniform gray. Between the sections is a peephole that the clinician can use to view the baby’s response to the card, while keeping their face hidden. If the baby spends more time looking at the gratings than the uniform gray, that means they can visually detect the pattern presented to them.

Once it’s determined the baby is looking at the gratings, the clinician will move on to a finer grating, to determine the limits of acuity. As soon as the baby chooses to look at the uniform gray instead of the gratings, we know it has gone beyond the limits of their detection. A similar technique for measuring acuity in infants is using LEA paddles, which work the same way as the Teller cards; the difference is that Teller cards hide your face. A baby will always choose to look at a face over anything else because it is much more interesting to them–it’s one of the obstacles in doing infant eye exams.

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New York Minute

New York Minute

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Blogs | 2 comments

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

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A First Year’s Reality Check

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Blogs | 1 comment

We are half way through the first quarter of our first year of optometry school. This was also the end of the first of many weeks consisting of three exams. I can honestly say I never thought I could see myself getting through a week of three exams let alone the two we had last week and the three (or is it four?) that we have next week.

Have you had your breakdown yet? I’m not talking about the quick little panic you had on your way to an exam or even the night you thought you wouldn’t get through all of your anatomy competency objectives. I’m talking about that moment you find yourself realizing what you have on your shoulders, in your mind, ahead of you, and behind you.

We have accomplished so much already. It’s five weeks in and we have taken seven exams, two pop quizzes, five homework assignments, and a lab quiz; written one paper, three forums, and a couple hundred note cards; entered chief complaints and case histories; gone through at least one set of highlighters; and answered way too many clicker questions. The list could go on. We have done A LOT. I am overwhelmed as my mind replays it all.

There are exams we as individuals scored higher than anticipated, and then there are the ones we did worse than we either wanted or expected. We have found our favorite classes, professors, and labs. We have studied hard for some tests and been overconfident for others.

We have been learning a lot over the past few weeks. Yes—we have learned about the many branches of the vertebral and basilar arteries to the brain; we have learned about fatty acid synthesis; and we have learned how to take extremely subjective exams, thinking through questions instead of just memorizing information for direct recall. More importantly, we have learned how to manage, balance, and survive. Now we must learn to continue—to press on—to not give up.

That brings us back to the original question: Have you had your breakdown yet? Next week we have one lab practical, two exams, and a lab quiz. We have open lab time slots we’ve signed up for in order to learn the Visual Field test. We have a lot in front of us. We have more on our plate than ever before. It is exhausting to think about. Your eyes tear up, and your burden seems to increase in weight. There’s your breakdown—reality. This is not going to be easy. If it were—why would you be here? We have all chosen to be students at the Illinois College of Optometry because there are people at this school who believe we have what it takes—that we CAN keep going. We are the Class of 2018, and we will move forward with grace, humility, and determination.

So you’ve had your breakdown—whether it was last week, this week, or next week, you will come to the realization that this isn’t about the perfect score or the stupid mistake you made on an exam. It is about growth. It is about our experiences in the lecture hall, in the labs, on exams, and with our future colleagues. These experiences will transform us into the best optometrists—and THAT is what this crazy journey is all about.


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Optometry Conferences and Trade Shows: My First Hand Experience and Advice

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Blogs | 1 comment

Over the last 2 years, I’ve had the privilege of attending Optometry’s Meeting (OM) in Chicago and San Diego, Vision Expo East (VEE) in New York, Vision Expo West (VEW) in Vegas, the South Eastern Congress of Optometry (SECO) in Atlanta and the Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC) in Washington, D.C. A lot of students don’t give much thought or are really aware of the opportunity to attend these hugely beneficial conferences. Here’s my take on why you should attend a few conferences as an optometry student, and how each one is different.VEE

How these conferences work:

You can usually find a decent deal on registration and hotel as long as you start planning early. The centerpiece of each conference is usually the exhibit hall and features frame companies, equipment dealers, websites, specialty products, and more. Throughout the show, there is a wide variety of continuing education courses–FREE for students–on topics such as clinical advice to business and marketing. There are also various events and parties to attend, some educational with a complimentary lunch/dinner and networking included.

Optometry’s Meeting

This is the meeting that is most synonymous with students, which is what sets it apart from the others. It’s held in a different city each year. It has events such as the student bowlpopular Student Bowl, and some great parties at night. It also has many student-geared programs and CE’s. That being said, the size and variety of the exhibit hall is on the small side. I feel the attendance of optometrists (and your opportunity for casual conversations and encounters walking around the exhibit hall floor, which is important for making connections and networking) is low compared to other conferences. I would still try to attend this conference every year, as it is a very fun trip and a chance to meet students from other schools and bond more with your classmates. As a side note: don’t underestimate the importance of meeting other students. You get a different view on optometry school and they may have connections or plans once they graduate, and could be looking for someone to join them.

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Let’s Go Round Again

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Blogs | 0 comments


And so another year at ICO begins. This time, however, I have a new outlook as a second year.

First years are in a frenzy, second years are rejoicing in their reunion after a long, well-deserved summer break, third years are just busy, and fourth years are in the midst of externship rotations. The first weeks at ICO are unlike anything else–a whirlwind to some and a huge awaiting obstacle to others. But, there is still excitement in the air.

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I was part of the ICO orientation team this year. Working closely with 20 of my classmates reminded me of those first day jitters, and in feeling so, I wanted to be there and help those 164 brand new faces. Orientation at ICO is unparalleled in the depths that we go to not only welcome our new colleagues, but also make the transition to professional school as smooth as humanly possible. We jam packed four long days with information, activities, seminars, speakers, Chicago delights (delicious pizza), and most importantly new friends. Nothing was left to chance. We found it not only important to stress what academic and student life at ICO is like, but also what a Chicago lifestyle was like. What pray tell, does that entail? Our first years set sail on an architecture tour in the Chicago River sightseeing everything from the magnificent Navy Pier to the captivating Chicago skyline. Our orientation team also pioneered the way to several different cuisines–from succulent Italian to authentic Greek–in neighborhoods across the city. Truth be told, this is one of the best things about Chicago – that is, the pure culture that adorns each locality, and the delicious food that follows it.

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