SUNY Annual Report 2019
Care • Lead • Advance ANNUAL REPORT
President’s Message. ........................................................................................................3 Student-Centered Experience.........................................................................................4 Academic Excellence......................................................................................................10 Service to Our Patients and Community.....................................................................20 Community and People. ................................................................................................26 Effective Foundational Support. ..................................................................................32 Financials.........................................................................................................................34 Leadership.......................................................................................................................35
2018-2023 Strategic Plan: Care • Lead • Advance
Student-Centered Experience • Enhance the student experience through programs that promote student and alumni success
Service to Our Patients and Community • Deliver unparalleled care to our University Eye Center patients • Provide service to the greater community Effective Foundational Support • Attract the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential • Provide the financial foundation, administrative support and environment to achieve the College’s mission
Academic Excellence • Deliver a dynamic curriculum that engages students and advances contemporary optometry • Grow the graduate and research programs to increase the institutional impact on the advancement of knowledge and to produce leaders in vision research Community and People • Cultivate institutional culture that encourages a sense of community, inclusion, institutional pride, collective purpose and shared responsibility • Promote the growth and development of all members of the College community
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President’s Message David A. Heath, OD, EdM
Embarking on the second year of our Care, Lead, Advance strategic plan in 2019 continues to propel SUNY College of Optometry forward in new and exciting directions. Our students are leaders in the field before they graduate. Our distinguished faculty are sought after experts who are helping change the landscape of optometry in the classroom, in the clinic, and in our research labs. We continue to cultivate programs that support our students and residents throughout their academic journey. We face considerable challenges in eye and vision care especially in terms of disparities in access, inequities in quality, treatment, and services available, lack of integration of eye care services in health systems, and a shortage in trained eye care professional around the world – especially in at-risk rural communities. However, our students, residents, fellows, and faculty are tackling these challenges through innovation, partnership, research, and volunteerism positioning them as experts and change agents. Whether through mission trips around the world or deepening a partnership right here in our own neighborhood with Health + Hospitals, the College is poised to advance population health while simultaneously leveraging a robust learning opportunity. There is much to celebrate as we head into “the year of vision” in 2020 and the College’s 50th Anniversary the following year. Our facilities continue to transform with the completion of our state- of-the-art teaching and learning suite on the lower lobby level, the groundbreaking and naming of the Barbara Saltzman Center for Pediatric Eye Care, and renovated lab space for translational research. Our faculty’s scholarly contributions are impressive as there is an ever-increasing number of articles in high-end publications, licensing agreements and partnerships with industry sponsors, and presentations to peers. Our programs leverage the lessons we have learned from our past and our broader college community to ensure our students and residents are prepared for the future of optometric practice. This year’s annual report highlights only a selection of our accomplishments. It is a testament to our values of leadership, professionalism, inquiry, innovation, diversity, and service. However, these achievements are only possible through the dedication, commitment, and support of our faculty, staff, students, and supporters. Thank you!
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Class of 2023
Students Lead on Campus and Nationally
SUNY Optometry Named "School of the Year" by National Optometric Association for Dedication to Diversity in Optometry
Ray Farmer ’21, Mariah Marshall ’21, Stephen Dellostritto ’21, and Shaimaa Shwket ’20. The project featured individual biographies of more than 20 doctors of optometry, emphasizing their accomplishments. Monique Mohammed ’20 also won the Cave Memorial Award for her exemplary devotion to increasing recognition of the work of minority doctors and to improving access to the field of optometry for underrepresented communities.
In recognition of the school’s ongoing work to diversify the field of optometry and improve eye health in under-served communities, the SUNY Optometry chapter of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) won the School of the Year award at the National Optometric Association’s (NOA) annual convention, the first time in the College’s history. SUNY Optometry was recognized for their Black History Month Inspiration Wall created by the College’s NOSA executive board: Monique Mohammed ’20,
of students participate in club sponsored activities
Student Led Clubs and Organizations
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Summer Mission Trip to Vietnam This past July, Dr. Tracy Nguyen, Dr. Andrea Friedman '15, and second year students, Jessica Hoang and Caroline Crisostomo, participated in a medical mission trip to DaNang, Vietnam with an organization called Vietnam Health Clinic. With the partnership of a local hospital, they were also able to provide free cataract surgery and follow- up care for 12 patients. 130+ volunteers dedicated their time and hard work to serve more than 1,600 patients in 4 villages during the two weeks in Vietnam. Jessica Hoang described her life-changing participation:
“It was an amazing experience! We learned a lot, gaining clinical experience and understanding patients. Words cannot really describe what I learned from the experience. There is a long list of little things that I truly think impacted my life from this trip. I saw how just a short interaction for optometric care can change an individual and even their family’s lives. There were a variety of different health care providers, and I learned how we can work with other providers to provide the best care for an individual.”
Erin Lutley ’20 Leading the Field Before Graduation Many optometrists come to the field because of positive memories of a childhood spent at the eye doctor. But Erin Lutley ‘20 had just one eye exam under her belt when she entered SUNY Optometry in 2016. She found her way to the profession not because of a past experience, but because of the future she envisioned for herself.
Transitions Optical student ambassador, and being the student representative on the College Council. She is also a Special Olympics volunteer. It is all, by anyone’s assessment, a lot. But this is, in Lutley’s view, necessary. “It is so important to me to be active beyond courses and academics, and I believe attending conferences and being a student leader are what have made me who I am,” she says. SUNY Optometry students actively participate in the national SOLutioN organization having held leadership roles on the board of directors for the past four years. Lutley is currently joined on the board by fellow SUNY Optometry student, Emily Shtull ’21.
Last spring, Lutley took on the role as national President for SOLutioN, Student Optometric Leadership Network. This is in addition to the work she does on campus participating in a number of committees, serving as the
102 Degrees awarded in 2019
41 Residency certificates
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Highlighting Successful Alumni and Recent Graduates
Dr. Jill Saxon ’04 Following graduation in 2004, Dr. Saxon began a 3-year stint as a staff optometrist, lecturer (and a U.S. Naval Lieutenant) at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She then went into private practice, joining
Kyra Dorgeloh ’19 Dr. Dorgeloh was the recipient of several awards including the 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence; the Mr. and Mrs. Irving Unger Award for Excellence in Optometry; and the Columbia Class of 1936 Award for
Randolph Eye Care in her hometown of Randolph, New Jersey. Dr. Saxon joined Bausch + Lomb as director of professional strategy in 2014, a position where she maximizes product launches through professional educational events and programs, and expands outreach programs. She became senior director of her team in 2017.
Academic and Clinical Achievement in Ocular Disease. She is a native of Apex, N.C., and received a bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Dorgeloh has served on the board of the National Optometric Student Association and as an active member of the Beta Sigma Kappa honor society.
Dr. Rae Huang ’13 The OD/MS program at SUNY Optometry has served Dr. Huang well. Dr. Huang runs three practices: Vision Care Boston, Highland Eye Care and Health, Vision and Beauty, plus EyeglassHeaven.com, an online consignment
Dr. Jacqueline Benoit ’19 Dr. Benoit received numerous awards for academic, clinical and professional distinction, including the Beta Sigma Kappa Award for Academic Excellence; the GP Lens Institute Clinical Excellence Award for Outstanding Clinical
shop. While the website draws on her love of vintage frames, the practices allow her to pursue her clinical interest in myopia prevention, which began when she worked in Dr. David Troilo’s lab. Though running multiple practices with a young family is challenging, it’s the professional achievement of which Dr. Huang is most proud.
Proficiency in Contact Lenses; and the Dr. William M. Eisenberg Memorial Award for Excellence in Ocular Disease sponsored by Alcon.
Dr. Jason J. Grygier ’19 Class of 2019 president, Dr. Grygier received the Dr. Stanley Eisenberg Memorial Award for Excellence in Practice Development and Administration; and the New York State Optometric Association Auxiliary Award for
Dr. Soney Siriphone ’16 As the supervising optometrist at Community Healthcare Network and adjunct assistant clinical professor, Dr. Siriphone manages a mobile eye van, seeing patients in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Patients
Outstanding Service to the Class of 2019. He also served as Research Coordinator for an NIH-funded amblyopia study, and was treasurer for Student Optometric Volunteer Services to Humanity (SVOSH), where he led a mission to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Dr. Grygier graduated summa cum laude from Clemson University with degrees in Psychology and Spanish.
who board the van receive primary eye care services, with an emphasis on the diagnosis and management of ocular disease, including glaucoma, dry eye, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The partnership provides students an opportunity to spend part of their fourth-year clinical rotations on board the van where they are learning to adapt to any clinical situation.
Yohanna Emun ’19 Dr. Yohanna Emun received the Dr. Benjamin Freed Memorial Award for Community Service sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, and the Good-Lite Pediatric Award for Excellence in Pediatric Optometry.
Dr. Emun is dedicated to providing vision care in underserved communities and had the opportunity to participate in medical mission trips to Oaxaca, Mexico and Negril, Jamaica.
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Dr. Julie Appel ’91 Named 2019 Alumna of the Year Dr. Julie Appel was named the 2019 Alumna of the Year by the SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Association. The 1991 graduate was recognized during the 16th annual Eyes on New York Awards Celebration at Cipriani 42 in New York City on March 22. In 2015, Dr. Appel received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in
Teaching. Additionally, she was recognized with the New York State Optometric Association’s Optometric Educator of the Year Award in 2017. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.
Dr. Appel was an integral member of the College’s alumni association board for two decades and championed its first capital campaign, helped establish the Pacesetter Award and advocated for the 2018 merger with the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY). The award celebrates SUNY Optometry alumni who remain involved with the College through volunteerism and financial support; demonstrate dedication to the profession through education, organized optometry, publications or research; and participate in community service organizations and/or international missions. “We are delighted to finally have the opportunity to thank Julie for her incredible leadership, volunteerism and professional contributions. She is a true ambassador for the College and a voice for alumni.” –Dr. Anna Marie Fernandez, Alumni Association President Dr. Appel has served on the SUNY Optometry faculty since 1992 and is an associate clinical professor having previously worked in private practice and as director of the optometry service at the Spellman Center for HIV- Related Disease. She is a clinical education coordinator for third-year interns and develops assessment and remediation programs.
Dr. Appel is the 23rd graduate to receive this honor since 1998.
1,009 members of the alumni community are registered users of SUNY Eye Network
58% of SUNY Eye Network members users have volunteered to help with professional development
320 alumni are married to alumni
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Annual Capstone presentation, hosted each May, prepares 4th year students for life after graduation
Delegation of Chinese educators visited campus to help foster cross-cultural understanding and learn from SUNY Optometry faculty
Alumni, students, and residents come together during the SUNY Optometry Reception at Academy in Orlando, FL
Nearly 200 items were collected by faculty, staff, and students during the annual Food Drive over the holidays
The Annual Career Symposium has over 200 attendees including alumni, faculty, and students
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Dr. Eva Duchnowski with the contact lens interns
Class of 1994 poses during Reunion 2019 at Naples45
Ribbon Cutting for the Mobile Eye Van, a partnership between Community Healthcare Network and the College
Giving Tuesday raised nearly $40,000 in 2019, a significant increase over last year
Resident’s Day was held on March 18, 2019 on the College’s campus
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ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE Delivering a Dynamic CurriculumEvery Day
Micro-Credentials Advance Student Learning In 2018, the State University of New York adopted a system-wide policy for offering micro-credentials which have gained traction in higher education.
“Our micro-credentials offer concentrations based on student interest and help provide the foundation for further development through residency programs and eventually becoming experts in those selected areas of practice.” The program was launched with the class of 2021; however, College leadership has long been working on individualized, elective opportunities. Students can currently earn micro-credentials—which then appear
At SUNY College of Optometry, the program has been honed to offer enrichment for students enrolled in the OD program. Micro-credentials are free to pursue, but require additional work and are selective, limited enrollment programs. “We have developed micro-credential offerings that provide concentrations, beyond what is provided in the core curriculum, in selected areas of optometric practice that reflect emerging sub-specialties within the profession,” says David Troilo, PhD, vice president and dean for Academic Affairs at SUNY College of Optometry.
on their transcripts in the following areas: • Advanced cornea and contact lenses • Glaucoma • Vision rehabilitation
• Low vision and ocular disease • Others are under consideration.
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Partnering With The VA and Military Advances Optometric Training Well-rounded clinical training creates a solid foundation for students to build their future practices. That is why fourth year students participate in at least 3 externships during their final year of study. Among those externships are 19 VA- and military- affiliated sites around the country which train over 100 students and 15 residents each year. For many of these sites with which SUNY College of Optometry has an affiliation, alumni serve as the supervisors continuing to share what they learned from their years at the College.
Jacquelyn Walter Dougherty, O.D. (’96) Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Clinical Supervisor and Professor of Optometry “My work at Buffalo VAMC is very rewarding. My father is a veteran, and in some way, it’s a tribute to him. I mostly do primary care with some tertiary care. I also do specialty contact lens and some low vision. The College’s affiliated externship programs at VA centers around the country are important because having a variety of sites to choose from in unique locations is always a good thing. Our externship program is special because we try to make it as “real world” as possible for the students. I’m drawn to sharing my knowledge and putting their minds at ease that we are here to help people, not to see them as a number. With the VA specifically, observing and working with individuals with PTSD and other mental illnesses can open the minds of future professionals. They can see their patients the way no one else can, if they are open to it.”
Nicole Nowling O.D. (’18) United States Air Force, Captain “I am serving as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force, currently stationed at the Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson (JBER) military installation in
Anchorage, Alaska. More than 10,000 active duty military personnel are based at JBER, and along with families, guards, civilians and retirees, the Anchorage community has a military presence of more than 42,000 people. I’m fortunate to experience the rewards of serving those who serve, every single day. I find that military members are extremely appreciative for the services provided to them; serving in the military shows us a different type of gratitude towards life and our well-being, and the importance of good health and positive morale. I am privileged to have the opportunity to serve my country, use my skills to provide outstanding treatment and contribute toward the excellence of our country’s Air Force. It also offers me opportunities for continued training and experience in optometry.”
Grace Tan, O.D. (’07) Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Externship Coordinator for the Optometry Clinic “Veterans are important members of our
Michelle Kim (’23) United States Navy, Lieutenant (O-3) Surface Warfare Officer “When I was applying to college, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor, but I felt
society and optometry has several unique ways in which we can help those who have served. By having externs rotate through VAs, we can teach them how to manage primary care and ocular disease in the aging population and how to detect signs of post-trauma vision syndrome in our younger returning veterans. While so many programs are fixated solely on ocular disease, we give our students exposure to those cases, help them manage or refer and co-manage, and then follow through with low vision and vision rehabilitation if needed. This wide range of exposure emphasizes how optometry can help patients with their daily tasks and return to civilian life. Training doctors in this environment feels more complete and teaches them that optometry should not be isolated in the private sector."
like I didn’t understand what was going on in the world. Having a deployment under my belt opened my eyes to the lack of availability of eye care, not just for people in underserved areas, but also for our deployed service members. Without this opportunity, students could easily never interact with the military and never gain appreciation or understanding for it, affecting future policies. Moreover, students get to use top notch technology, see interdisciplinary care in action and give back to those who have served. For veterans, students allow greater access to quality eye care; attendings who oversee students are able to care for more patients in a day and having two different perspectives allows for more discussion and better diagnosis."
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The Dean Yager Award
The Dean Yager Award recognizes MS and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows for outstanding research papers published or accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal.
Dr. Reece Mazade Functional specialization of ON & Off cortical pathways for global-slow and local-fast vision, Cell Reports
Dr. Erin Koch Picture perception reveals mental geometry of 3D scene inferences,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2019 Summer Research Fellows Supported by a T35 training grant from the National Eye Institute, the 10-week program introduces optometry students to basic, translational and clinical vision research, as well as to critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for research, clinical practice and patient care.
Ridwan Carim-Sanni, Class of 2022 Structure-Function Correlation in Glaucoma Assessed with Full Field Electroretinogram (ERG) and Buch’s
Membrane Minimum Rim Width (BMO-MRW) Research Mentor: Dr. Suresh Viswanathan
Veronica Moore-Stoll, Class of 2022 Application of Psychophysical Models to Visual Disorders Research Mentor: Dr. Mitchell Dul Quynh Nguyen, Class of 2022 Changes of Muller Glial MicroRNAs after Light Damage Research Mentor: Dr. Stefanie Wohl Siyun Ren, Class of 2022 Peripheral Defocus Profile of Multifocal Minus Contact Lenses Research Mentor: Dr. Xiaoying Zhu Sofia Ribolla, Class of 2022 The Occurrence of Dry Eye in a Pediatric Population Research Mentor: Dr. Tracy Nguyen
Crystal Guo, Class of 2022 Mental Geometry of 3D Scene Estimations Research Mentor: Dr. Qasim Zaidi Andrew Kageyama, Class of 2022 Clinical Measures of Visual Resolution and Quality of Life Surveys Research Mentor: Dr. Mark Rosenfield Stephanie Liang, Class of 2022 Choroidal Imaging in Marmosets using Optical Coherence Tomography; Manual Segmentation and Optimization for Automated Protocols Research Mentor: Dr. Alexandra Benavente
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Research Activity and Grants
33 Grants totaling $3.62 MILLION
13 Invited talks and lectures 72 Presentations
2019 Schnurmacher Colloquium Series Speakers
Elissa Aminoff Ph.D. Department of Psychology, Fordham University Dr. Regan Ashby University of Canberra, Australia Dr. Ning Qian Columbia University Dr. Robert Ennis University of Geissen, Germany Nolan Wilson SUNY College of Optometry Prof. James H. Elder York University, Toronto Canada Bryan William Jones University of Utah Dr. Juan “Jenny” Huang The Ohio State University
Dr. Jacob Feldman Rutgers University Emily Cooper University of California, Berkeley Rita Nieu SUNY College of Optometry Brenda Tan SUNY College of Optometry Dr. Louis Pasquale Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital Franklin Bui SUNY College of Optometry Dr. Riccardo Natoli
Dr. Brett Joseph King Indiana University Bradley Dougherty The Ohio State University Dr. Shiri Azenkot The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Cornell University Dr. Shirin E. Hassan Indiana University School of Optometry Dr. Mulugeta Semework Columbia University Dr. David C. Lyon University of California, Irvine Dr. Edward Levine Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. Michael Iuvone Emory University School of Medicine
Dr. Emilio Salinas Wake Forest School of Medicine Dr. Xiaoying Zhu SUNY College of Optometry Dr. Andrew Anderson University of Melbourne Dr. Krystel Huxlin University of Rochester Dr. Ava Bittner University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Jianhua Cang University of Virginia Carmen Pons SUNY College of Optometry Dr. Dennis Levi UC Berkeley School of Optometry
Australian National University, Canberra Dr. David Berson Brown University
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Research Leads to Knowledge and Leaders in the Field Connexin Therapeutics Licenses Research by Stewar t Bloomfield to Advance Glaucoma Treatment
changing optometric care. Bloomfield’s lab has published several papers that explore the cellular and molecular mechanism of ophthalmic diseases. His latest success is the October 2019 license agreement with Cambridge, UK-based biotech startup Connexin Therapeutics to develop and commercialize products that prevent blindness and vision loss in glaucoma patients.
As associate dean for graduate studies and research, director of the Graduate Center for Vision Research, professor of Biological and Vision Science, operations manager for the Research Foundation for the State University of New York and an active investigator, Dr. Stewart Bloomfield is committed to conducting research that results in new therapies for people in need of life-
Dr. Alexandra Benavente-Pérez Aims to Halt the Spread of Myopia
As associate clinical professor Benavente-Pérez is an expert in myopia development, visual control of eye growth, and ocular haemodynamics in health and disease. Her lab focuses on the visual signals that trigger the eye growth changes leading to myopia. Dedicating herself to halting the spread of myopia – which she considers a public health issue because it's increasing prevalence – she continues to try to change lives with her research. Benavente-Pérez plans to carry on and expand upon the role that peripheral retina and eye shape may play as predictors of future changes in refraction.
“When we treat myopic patients, we are only able to correct their defocus with contact lenses, spectacles or refractive surgery. But the defocus experienced by myopes is caused by their eyes growing larger. This increased eye growth can put a myopic patient at risk of eye complications and clinicians have limited options to prevent further myopic deterioration. This is of significant clinical importance, as degenerative myopia is a leading cause of blindness. As a clinician, I care about improving the range of treatment options for our patients to enhance their quality of life.”
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Clinical Vision Research Center The CVRC sits at the intersection of government-, foundation-, and industry-sponsored research to advance vision care at every level. Each study is matched with a primary investigator who has the appropriate level of experience and expertise in the field to conduct the trial. Simultaneously, we are educating students and residents as well as mentoring new study coordinators.
Studies in 2019
Last year, the CVRC coordinated 22 active studies which generated approximately $1.2 million – nearly doubling the previous year. Selected studies are shared below: Adult Investigators: Dr. Mitchell Dul, Dr. Azinda Morrow • Biometry Prescision & Agreement Study (B3) • Biometry Imaging Study (B4) • Biometry Cornea & IOL Study (B5) • Fundus Camera Study • Macular OCT Study • Euclid Extended Range Treatment Study Children Investigators: Dr. Danielle Iacono, Dr. Erica Schulman, Dr. Marilyn Vricella, Dr. Xiaoying Zhu • Childhood Myopia Progression Study (CHAMP) • Control of Myopia Using Peripheral Diffusion Lenses (CYPRESS) • Myopia Progression Study (CHAPERONE) • PEDIG Amblyopia Treatment Study • PEDIG Intermittent Exotropia Study
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SUNY Optometry Researchers Find that Bright Lights Outdoors May Help Treat ‘Lazy-Eye’ in Children
While past research indicated that amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, equally affects the brain pathways signaling bright and dark features in an image, Ms. Pons Torres found that amblyopia affects the perception of bright features more than dark features. Her research also shows that, as amblyopia becomes more severe and the images projected in the eye lose detail, bright targets become increasingly difficult to discern. This recent work opens the possibility to treat amblyopia by strengthening weakened brain pathways that signal bright stimuli.
Amblyopia is a loss of vision that affects 2-5% of children across the world and originates from a deficit in visual cortical circuitry. The maturation of visual acuity in both amblyopia and myopia may be closely associated with the development of pathways signaling bright features in the brain, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience by SUNY College of Optometry doctoral candidate Carmen
Pons Torres and colleagues in the laboratory of distinguished professor Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso.
Alumni Pass On Knowledge and Importance of Research to Future Optometrists
This year, Ali’s daughter, Ashley, graduated from SUNY College of Optometry. His wife, Lori, who also works for the practice is an alumna of the College as well. “As I did my residency at SUNY and went on to teach at the College, I feel I have a good comfort level and respect for the optometric education that students receive there. Also, I know many of the faculty and can easily ask for evaluations to understand who would make a good fit for my practice. There’s a certain chemistry that we look for in an optometrist and it works well to get a better understanding of the ODs this way,” says Steven, who recruits nationwide, but believes these reasons are why so many of his hires are from the College.
Arkady Selenow, O.D, FAAO ’81 is co-owner of two New York City-based optometry practices who knows just where to look to hire someone new: his alma mater. It is a habit that gives him the assurance that his practice is staffed by the brightest and best in the industry—and it also means he is always surrounded by those with the knowledge that is taught at the College. Selenow and fellow SUNY Optometry alumnus, Steven Ali, OD, merged their private practices 35 years ago [Manhattan Vision Associates and Queens Eye Associates]. They also founded the Institute for Vision Research in 1990. It develops diagnostic equipment for contact lens fittings, spearheads lens research and development and conducts clinical trials of new designs and materials for contact lenses and eyeglasses. “We are very proud of our Institute for Vision Research,” Selenow says. “I oversee all our studies and am the principle investigator on most of them. We specialize in corporate research, which means that many of our studies are time sensitive and the data is used very quickly. Because of this, we get to see the practical applications of our outcomes.”
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Innovative Ideas Inspire Students and Alumni
Christian Crespo Receives 2019 Student Innovator Award Third-year student Christian Crespo received the 2019 Student Innovator Award following the College’s fourth annual competition on February 2019.
Their submissions were reviewed by the award committee and finalists, including Mr. Crespo, Daniel Chen, Constantinos Bacas, Alexa Reifinger, Jessica Hoang and Ludy Yang, were chosen to develop their ideas and create presentations. Marc Ferrara, chief executive officer of the information services division of Jobson Medical Information; Ryan Parker, director of professional education for Essilor of America, Inc.; Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez, the College’s vice president for clinical administration and executive director of the University Eye Center; Dr. Kristen Fry, director of the Clinical Vision Research Center; and Dr. Richard Soden, director of health care development, served as judges for this year’s competition. They assessed the students’ ideas for originality, potential impact, viability and feasibility. SUNY Optometry students have this opportunity to be directly rewarded for their ingenuity thanks to a partnership with Essilor of America, Inc. and the Rick Bay Foundation for Excellence in Eye Care Education. Past winners include Elkie Fung and Tara Mahvelati, Kathleen Hoang and Vanessa Fimreite.
Mr. Crespo presented a 3D printed retinoscope design to help address refractive error blindness around the world. He believes access to more affordable optometric equipment would allow more individuals to be trained and equipped to provide eye care services for underserved communities. “Refractive error is the second leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide, but individuals willing to be trained to provide refractive services simply can’t afford the current cost of optometric equipment,” he said. “My hope is that by working with humanitarian nonprofits to have my retinoscope produced and distributed, my innovation will help reduce the incidence of refractive error blindness.” Mr. Crespo also received a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to present his concept during the Vision Monday Global Leadership Summit. The annual competition began in the fall when students were invited to submit abstracts related to innovations or improvements in clinical eye care, research, practice management, optometric education, health care policy, community education, technology and social media.
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AT A GLANCE
95% National Board 3-year average pass rate
Degrees Awarded: OD PhD OD/MS OD/PhD
Average GPA of entering classes: 3 . 59
OD Applicants (Class of 2023): 436 applicants; 100 enrolled
Enrollment: 402 Students
Approximate female/male ratio: 53% 71% : 29%
Students from New York State:
Faculty 17 Part-time faculty
66 Full-time faculty
30 Satellite faculty
170 External adjuncts
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Residents: 41 Residency Areas: – Cornea and
Optometric Center of New York trustees: 21
33 Grants in FY 2018-19
$3.62 MILLION in funding
OCNYAssets: $10.8 MILLION
>240,000 Total Patient Encounters 2,400 Hours of clinical experience for each OD student over four years
Contact Lenses – Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation – Family Practice – Low Vision Rehabilitation – Ocular Disease – Pediatrics – Primary
– Primary Care – Advanced Care – Rehabilitation – Social Work Services – Eyewear Center – Community Outreach
69,626 UEC Patient visits FY 2018-19
– Eye Care – Acquired
Brain Injury – Vision Therapy
In-state tuition (2019-20) $29,820
Out-of-state tuition (2019-20) $51,150 Annual operation budget $34M
Residency and Graduate Degree (MS or PhD) in Vision Science
Scholarships/grants (2018-19) $1.0M
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SERVICE TO OUR PATIENTS AND COMMUNITY Delivering Unparalleled Care and Training Every Day Dr. Deborah Amster Joins as New Chief of Pediatric Care Bringing over 16 years of clinical, laboratory, and faculty experience to SUNY Optometry, Dr. Deborah Amster will lead the implementation of the new state-of-the-art Center for Pediatric Eye Care.
She is both a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. Dr. Amster completed her residency in pediatrics and binocular vision at NSU after graduating from the New England College of Optometry in 2001. Additionally, Dr. Amster has authored chapters in optometric textbooks, co-authored peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, and delivered many presentations and public lectures. She also chaired NSU’s Quality Assurance Committee, lectured at national meetings, and actively mentored students and residents during her NSU tenure.
“Through pediatric eye care, optometrists help to improve and enhance children’s vision so they may function and thrive academically, recreationally and socially." – Dr. Amster
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Early Detection Vision Screenings Help Children Learn
More than 40 early childhood students at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House received on-site vision screenings in September through the University Eye Center Community Outreach program. Five members of the class of 2022 under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Yang helped to provide the services. Partnerships with organizations like Lenox Hill Neighborhood House allow our students and clinical faculty to bring vital services to low-income and underserved community members in New York City. It provides a rich teaching platform with patients who come from a variety of backgrounds in addition to being a community outreach program for the College. SUNY Optometry’s University Eye Center conducts more than 85 vision screenings for patients of all ages each year throughout Manhattan and the boroughs. 118 Community Screenings and Outreach Events in 2019
“Without programs like these some patients would never receive eye care.” – Clarissa Burroughs, community outreach coordinator
Community members served through outreach programs: 9,766
Health and Wellness Partners
Community Members served at Health andWellness Expo
3,738 Hours of community service performed by students in 2019
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State-of-the-Art Care Uses Technology While Advancing Clinical Training
Electroretinogram Machine Helps Identify Candidates for Gene Therapy
color vision or poor night vision.” She adds that with the advent of gene therapy for inherited eye diseases, a proper diagnosis can lead to improved quality of life for patients and their families. “Genetic counseling can only occur after a correct diagnosis has been achieved; families want to know if their children will be affected. The ERG is crucial.” Residents in the College’s ocular disease program have the unique opportunity to use the ERG spending 13 weeks testing patients, learning the applications of the test and how to interpret the findings. ERG has been around for more than 60 years, but there aren’t many facilities equipped with the technology. In fact, the University Eye Center receives many referrals from optometrists and ophthalmologists whose patients have unusual retinal findings and symptoms. The College’s ERG is housed in the Advanced Care Service, and it’s used to help patients all over the region.
Trained eye care professionals are the first line of defense when patients present with vision problems. But sometimes, they need a little help. At SUNY College of Optometry, that often means turning to the VERIS electroretinogram (ERG) machine. An ERG uses electroretinography, which measures the electrical response of the light-sensitive cells in the eyes, to determine if a patient has an inherited eye disease so that their doctor can put them on the correct path to treatment. “The ERG aids in the diagnosis of diseases and status of progressive diseases. For example, a patient who presents with a symptom of night blindness can either need stronger glasses, or have a disease called congenital stationary night blindness, or a disease called retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive disease that can lead to blindness,” says Dr. Sherry J. Bass, distinguished teaching professor at the College. “We have diagnosed patients who have lived their entire lives never knowing why they have poor vision, poor
Retina Clinic Detects Rare Gene Mutation in Patient with Inherited Retinal Disease Genetic testing can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But when you find that one patient whom you can help – the results are potentially life-changing. Ezrick was diagnosed with Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) at the age of five. In this inherited retinal disease (IRD), an electroretinogram reveals that the rods and cones of the eye are either degenerated or not functioning properly. That, combined with poor vision and nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movement), signal LCA. The patient is one of an estimated 3,000 people in the United States with this disease. He began coming to the UEC for his care in 2002, but until now, there was no way to treat his symptoms, which include poor day vision, no night vision and nystagmus. “My patient is one of the estimated 250 people in the U.S. with LCA who tested positive for RPE65. This was an amazing result!” says Dr. Sherry Bass. “The patient was thrilled because now the wheels are in motion to determine if he is eligible for the treatment. He will be evaluated and if deemed eligible, he will be treated at one of only 10 treatment centers in the United States.”
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Two New Initiatives Could Expand the Way SUNY Optometry Delivers Eye Care
ICare Tonometer Provides Around the Clock Information Glaucoma patients need to monitor their eye pressure regularly. With the new ICare tonometers, patients can monitor their eye pressure at home helping to identify intraocular pressure spikes sooner. The tonometer also gathers additional information to be reviewed by the optometrist. At the UEC patients are shown how to use the device and then work with their doctor to monitor the results and develop a treatment plan.
The ability to meet with and diagnose patients using technology, instead of only face-to-face visits, holds untold possibilities. Piloting leading-edge diagnostic and treatment opportunities provides exceptional care to our patients, but also teaches students how the intersection of technology and optometry may change the future of their practice.
Telehealth Connects Patients and Providers
Spear-headed by Dr. Michael McGovern, chief medical officer, the College is piloting two telehealth initiatives testing the functionality, developing provider partnerships, and evaluating how these technologies integrate into the current health system. One allows primary care physicians to use a camera to take pictures of the retina and send the images to the University Eye Center, a designated reading center, to interpret and detect signs of diabetic eye disease. The second pilot is a telehealth portal that allows patients to visit with providers remotely or provider-to-provider consultations.
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New Laser Improves Outcomes For Patients Adding the Lumenis Selecta Duet, a combination YAG/SLT laser valued at over $70,000 and donated by the Optometric Center of New York to the Advanced Care Clinic has
Having the new laser has changed the way the College serves patients. “Owning the laser has allowed us to streamline the process for getting patients treated,” says Dr. Jennifer Gould, chief of advanced care services at the UEC. “We are performing consultation and treatment at the same visit, eliminating one visit for patients. For the SLT, we were previously only able to perform it eight times a year, now we have appointments for this procedure approximately 36 times a year.”
increased the number of patients treated this year by thirty percent. While this technology has been around for some time, owning the equipment has made the treatment more accessible to patients as well as exposing students to the latest treatments.
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) This treatment helps prevent glaucoma in patients whose angle (the space between the cornea and the iris) is anatomically narrow. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) Used to lower the eye pressure in patients who already have primary open angle glaucoma, pigmentary glaucoma, exfoliative glaucoma or ocular hypertension, this treatment increases the fluid drainage which causes the pressure. YAG Capsulotomy Secondary cataracts, also known as posterior capsule opacification, which can develop following surgery for cataracts can be treated through this process.
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Breaking Ground on the New Barbara Saltzman Center for Pediatric Eye Care
In April, the College hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new Center for Pediatric Eye Care—a 5,000 square foot facility dedicated to accommodating the growing need for both basic and advanced pediatric eye care within the University Eye Center. The new facility will feature eight state-of-the art examination rooms, a sensory-sensitive waiting area (the “chill room”), consultation space, pediatric optical, and a centrally located area (the “Collaboration Zone”) for multiple disciplines to engage in collaborative practice, assuring optimal patient outcomes. A generous $1.28 million gift from Ms. Barbara Saltzman, was received in December. In recognition of her generosity and commitment to supporting vision care, SUNY Optometry will name the center the Barbara Saltzman Center for Pediatric Eye Care.
“Our innovative clinical care environment will also provide a state-of-the-art educational environment that incorporates clinical research and evidence-based practice to train future eye care professionals,” SUNY Optometry president David A. Heath said. “We will have a pediatric service unlike any other in the country and provide for the children of New York City and beyond thanks to the generous support of our many donors.”
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COMMUNITY AND PEOPLE Cultivating a Culture that Encourages as Sense of Community and Inclusion Creating a Culture of Mental Well-being Among Optometry Students The rigors of health-related fields of study—both academic and clinical—are considerably stressful. In 2019, SUNY College of Optometry enhanced the services and support of mental health and wellbeing for our students making significant strides to eliminate barriers that hinder students from seeking the help services they need. Highlighted Activities: Hosted campus-wide workshop with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create a support system to address mental health wellness on campus.
As an important issue across all SUNY campuses, Dr. Guilherme "Gui" F. C. Albieri represents the College on the SUNY System-Wide Student Mental Health and Wellness Task Force program and serves on the Clinical Subcommittee to recommend clinical services delivery models, psychiatry, legal issues, and best practices for addressing mental health wellness on campuses.
Developed an online platform for students seeking support privately which includes videos on how to manage stress, conquer test anxieties, and promote healthy study habits. Ongoing programs include mental health counseling and suicide prevention services, an interfaith prayer and meditation room, Tea Chat workshops that bring the community together, and the 11th Floor Safe Zone for students.
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2019 Commencement SUNY College of Optometry held its 45th commencement ceremony on May 23 where hundreds gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan to witness the College grant 97 students their degrees for the OD, PhD and MS in vision science and advanced certificate in optometry business management. Hubert Sagnières, chairman of the Essilor Group and executive vice chairman of EssilorLuxottica, and Dr. Donald Hood, professor of psychology and professor of ophthalmic science at Columbia University, both received honorary degrees during the ceremony.
Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda, distinguished teaching professor of biological and vision sciences, and Dr. Philip B. Kruger, professor emeritus of biological and vision sciences, both received the Presidential Medallion. “Thirty years ago, I embarked on a journey that started as a business opportunity, but later led me to a passion for changing the way the world sees.” –Mr. Sagnières
Essilor chairman Hubert Sagnières, SUNY Optometry president David A. Heath and Columbia University professor Dr. Donald Hood
Essilor chairman Hubert Sagnières delivers the 2019 commencement address
Millie Knight, Dr. David Heath, Hubert Sagnieres and Barbara Saltzman at the Honorary Degree Recipient Dinner
SUNY Optometry Class of 2019 president Dr. Jason Grygier notes that their class is one year from 20/20 vision. “Anyway, in the end, any optometrist knows that 20/19 vision is slightly better than 20/20.”
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Promoting Growth and Development for All Members of the College Community
Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service: Ms. Kali Berrios Kali Berrios, an optometric technician for the contact lens service at SUNY College of Optometry’s University Eye Center (UEC), received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. The honor provides SUNY system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and encourages the ongoing pursuit of excellence. “Kali is a phenomenal asset,” said Dr. Eva Duchnowski, associate clinical professor and section chief of the UEC’s contact lens service. “She is an exemplary employee who continuously demonstrates that she genuinely cares about the service provided to our patients. She is often complimented by our patients on her patience and excellent contact lens insertion and removal training sessions.”
Recognition of “Distinguished Librarian” Ms. Elaine Wells
Elaine Wells has been appointed to the rank of Distinguished Librarian, a prestigious tenured University rank that is conferred upon librarians whose contributions have been transformational in creating a new information environment by providing access to information, sharing or networking information resources, and fostering information literacy. She joins an illustrious group of eight librarians across the State University of New York system who have earned this distinction to date.
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