A little over 9 months ago, I was sitting in one of SUNY’s classrooms for orientation along with 87 others, very eager to get my 1st year started. As I look back, it truly amazes me how much we have all grown and learned in such a short amount of time. I feel proud to say that we are actually able to perform an entire refraction along with binocularity tests and examining externals, which consists of about 80% of a comprehensive eye exam! SUNY’s classes were certainly very demanding, and the professors had high expectations for each and every one of us. We all have worked harder than ever, but the best part was that we got through it together. In this article, I’d like to share some highlights of my 1st year.
First semester consisted of 20.5 credits, while the second semester was 21 credits. Classes and labs ran roughly from 8:30 AM – 4 PM, and the remaining hours in the day were spent catching up on lectures or practicing procedures. Days were pretty long, indeed, but fortunately SUNY’s professors made learning the material engaging and entertaining. Some examples include: learning the anatomy of the eye by being ‘surgeons’ for a day and dissecting a cows eye, or how prisms work by displacing IMAGES and NOT eyes, or even optics by allowing us to build a pinhole camera out of cardboard from scratch!
Exams and Clinical assessments – Procedures that we were assessed on included (in no particular order):
- Case history
- Subjective refraction
- Binocular balancing
- Measurement of phorias
- Vergence ranges
- Motility tests
- Confrontation visual fields
- PD and Near CD
- Amplitude of accommodation
- NRA and PRA
- Gradient AC/A
- Accommodation and vergence facilities
- Color vision
- Slit lamp
Assessment days were always a rush – some days went better than others, but overall we gained excellent knowledge and clinical skills that made all those hours of practicing more than worth it.
My favorite memories of this year were definitely the vision screenings around New York City. Only one month into school, I was able to participate in a local vision screening in Queens through the Lion’s Club. In addition, there were about 3-4 school screenings we all participated in in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Upper East Side. SUNY also has free in-house screenings every month in which 1st years are able to participate in. These were the most thrilling, mainly because each one of us was provided with our own exam rooms on the clinic floors to see our patients! It’s great to be able to utilize what we learned on actual patients. Getting this early clinical exposure kept us motivated and driven to learn more and perform even better.
Between studying and practicing, we had to fit in some fun! Our SUNY community is filled with great athletes, and that includes our professors. Dr. Rosenfield, our professor of Optometric Theory and Procedures, invited us to participate in a race with him at Central Park the morning of Superbowl Sunday. Vision Walk 2013 was also a fun and successful event where our SUNY-O team raised over $8000 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness! Other memorable moments included SUNY’s Halloween Party, Eye Ball, and the Annual Picnic & Softball game tournament, which all occurred periodically throughout the year.
This year has been filled with meeting tons of new people, and that includes meeting the OptometryStudents.com’s team at Vision Expo East! Two years ago, I remember referring to this website several times as a pre-optometry student. The content has helped me tremendously when it came to applying to schools and learning more about the profession. Now I feel grateful to be able to contribute back by joining the team as the Chief of Optometric Clinical Photo Database. As 1st year ends with unforgettable memories and accomplishments, I look forward to creating even more in the following years to come.