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October 7, 2015

Homebound Program to Expand into the Bronx

For decades, SUNY Optometry, through the support of its foundation the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), has provided in-home care for New Yorkers who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to leave their homes. This unique Homebound Program currently provides about 200 doctor visits each year to individuals in the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens. But the need to provide care to homebound patients continues to rise throughout the city, particularly as New York’s population grows increasingly older.

Now, thanks to a two-year, $120,000 grant to the OCNY from the New York Community Trust, the College will expand its Homebound Program, hoping to double the number of patients seen in the next two years and establishing a presence in The Bronx.

Vision is often a critical factor in maintaining personal safety and enhancing the quality of life for homebound patients. Older adults with impaired sight are at a much greater risk for falls and fractures, as well as depression and difficulty identifying medications, which can lead to serious drug-related errors and poor management of systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. In addition, growing numbers of individuals are experiencing vision loss from conditions like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, increasing the need for many homebound people to receive quality eye care. Too many of them simply are unable to get the care that they so desperately need.

“Thanks to the dedication of a couple of our doctors over the years, we’ve been able to help quite a few homebound patients,” said Dr. Richard Soden, SUNY Optometry’s director of health care development. “But there are so many more people in our city who need care and we’re grateful that this grant from the New York Community Trust will allow us to build on our experience serving homebound patients and expand the program.”

The Homebound Program currently includes two optometrists, working one day each week in Manhattan and Queens. The program serves patients regardless of their ability to pay. Individuals in need of care are identified through a variety of sources, including self-referral, referrals from family members and through the College’s extensive referral network which includes primary care physicians, social workers and home agencies, in addition to programs such as The Visiting Nurse Service, Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors program and Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, among others. 

State-of-the-art portable equipment is used by the visiting doctors in order to provide a comprehensive visual examination in the home that includes refraction and an ocular health assessment, glaucoma and cataract evaluation as well as the evaluation of systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. If glasses are needed, the frame is selected from a supply in the portable exam kit and adjusted on-site during the visit. The same frame is then inserted with proper lenses at the University Eye Center’s Essilor Eyewear Center and mailed to the patient. For those patients who live in poorly lit  apartments, desk or standing lamps are also provided free of charge. Following the exam, doctors provide reports to the referral source for inclusion in the patient’s health record and schedule follow-up appointments as needed. 

In addition to the OCNY, the Homebound Program has also been supported by the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation for the past eight years. In addition to facilitating growth of the program into the Bronx, the additional support provided by the New York Community Trust grant will allow the College to develop promotional materials for the Homebound Program, in both English and Spanish, to help more New Yorkers become aware of the service.

“Our ability to expand this program is critical to the health care needs of our aging city,” Dr. Soden said. “It’s going to make a big impact on a lot of people’s lives.”

October 6, 2015

Care Providers Introduce Themselves at Externship Expo

The College held its 3rd Annual Externship EXPO last month. The event is designed to provide an opportunity for care providers from a range of different practice modes and specializations to meet with students and talk to them about their work prior to the students choosing their fourth year externship rotations.

Representatives from dozens of institutions, including community health centers, hospitals, military hospitals, referral centers, private practices, interprofessional practices and specialty care practices all participated. The program, which was organized by the Career Development Center and the Department of Clinical Education, also included a continuing education component.

Click the image below to view photos from the event

September 21, 2015

SUNY Optometry Begins Collaboration with The Door

SUNY Optometry’s growing network of collaborators in New York City is getting even bigger. This month, the College began providing comprehensive eye care services during weekly rotations at The Door, a 43-year-old organization in lower Manhattan that provides a range of innovative services for young people.

Helping 10,000 individuals each year, The Door, in addition to health care services, also provides education, counseling, career development, legal assistance, supportive housing, recreational activities and more. Two fully-equipped examination rooms have been set up at the organization’s Broome Street location where SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Shandor Zelenger and two OD students will provide comprehensive care. 

(Left to Right) The Door's Adolescent Health Center Director Ms. Renee McConey, SUNY OD student Darren Sham, SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Shandor Zelenger. SUNY OD student Samuel Harrosh, The Door's Adolescent Health Center Office Manager Ms. Irene Rodriquez and The Door's Adolescent Health Center Clinical Manager Ms. Sandra Langston on September 21, 2015

“We’re very excited about working with The Door,” Dr. Richard Soden, SUNY Optometry’s director of health care development said. “They’re a great organization doing really wonderful things in our city and we’re proud to be providing eye and vision care services to the young people they serve.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with SUNY Optometry to add vision services to our Adolescent Health Center,” said Ms. Julie Shapiro, executive director of The Door. “There is growing evidence that low-income youth are less likely to have access to eye care services. As one of only two health clinics in New York City devoted solely to adolescent health, and the only one located in a comprehensive youth center, our partnership will immediately address this unmet need.”

“SUNY Optometry’s commitment to serving New York City is incredible,” added Ms. Renee McConey, director of The Door’s Adolescent Health Center. “The staff at SUNY Optometry have been fantastic partners and are enthusiastic about collaborating with community-based organizations.”

This new partnership is part of a growing commitment that SUNY Optometry has made toward serving the New York City community. In 2013, the College began working with the Bowery Mission and now provides care at two of the Mission’s locations in Manhattan. In addition, the College provides care to hundreds of individuals each year who are unable to leave their homes in Queens and Manhattan through its long-standing Homebound Program.

September 15, 2015

Health Care Community Prepares for ICD-10

After a two year delay, the new International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-10, is set to launch on October 1, creating an unusually high level of anxiety among health care providers across the United States. The unease is largely due to the fact that this new edition of the coding system is much more than just a minor update. Instead, it is a massive sea change poised to make a significant impact on the way that patient care is managed and how public health information is collected and reported across the nation and around the world.

At its heart, ICD-10 is a far more robust system that uses an extremely granular approach. In addition to utilizing over five times the number of diagnostic codes that were used in the previous version, ICD-10 will also incorporate many more categories and will require a highly specific approach to identifying treatments. A key benefit of this specificity will be the ability to obtain much better data which will, in turn, lead to improvements in the information that will be used for implementing vital health care reforms going forward. ICD-10 will provide for a more accurate picture of each patient’s health and will make quality reporting more precise and complete.

“As health care in the United States shifts toward a system based on quality and patient outcomes, we need an abundance of data and information to make that system work,” Dr. Richard Soden (pictured), SUNY Optometry’s director of health care development and a leading expert on health care coding says. “ICD-10 will enable providers to document care—and subsequently code claims—that are much more evidence-based and that take into account advances that have been made in technology.”

This “value-based” approach to health care is being driven by the Affordable Care Act and other health care reforms that are quickly coming into focus over the next couple of years. In general, these changes will require health care providers to have a more broad understanding of the care that they are providing to patients as well as improved interprofessional coordination among practitioners.

“Doctors are also going to need to fully understand the economics of their practices in order to make meaningful economic decisions,” Dr. Soden says. “It’s not going to be enough just to know your ‘chair costs,’ you will need to understand the costs per ‘episode of care’ that you are providing for the most common diseases that you diagnose and treat.”

The ultimate goal is to provide high-quality, efficient and coordinated care at the lowest cost possible. “It’s important for doctors to think less about the ‘fee for service’ model,” Dr. Soden notes, “and more about quality care and, possibly, bundled payments. It will be important that documentation supports the codes reported to insurance companies.”

While ICD-10 is causing anxiety in the United States, it is already in use in many countries around the word. And while ICD-9 had been used in the United States since the mid-1970s, the World Health Organization says that ICD-11 is currently in development and is expected to be finalized by 2018.

“Health care reform is here,” Dr. Soden says. “At this point, we need to be prepared for these changes to come very quickly.”

September 1, 2015

Faculty and Staff News September 2015

Publications & Presentations:

Tannen, Barry, Desmond, Amy, Shelley-Tremblay, Jack, Ciuffreda, Kenneth, Larson, Seven; Correlation of Magnocellular Function with Measurements of Reading in Children. Vision Development & Rehabilitation. Volume 1, Issue 2

Cai, LT, Yuan A, Backus B; Interactions among contrast, spatial displacement, and dichoptic viewing during binocular combination in global motion perception. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):270. doi: 10.1167/15.12.270.

Barash A,  Selver O, Chung  SH, Wang Z, Reinach P, Wolosin  JM.  (2015) Ocular surface epithelia side population stem cells: isolation, molecular signatures and approaches to activation and self renewal for tissue regeneration.  In book: Stem Cells in Ophthalmology, Edition: 1/e, Chapter: 2, Publisher: jaypee, Editors: Daniel H. Scorsetti MD, Victor L. Perez, Jose Alvaro Pereira Gomes, pp.15-36

Reinach P,Chen W and Mergler S. (2015)  Polymodal roles of transient receptor potential channels in the control of ocular function  Eye and Vision. 2015.2:5 DOI: 10.1186/s40662-015-0016-4.

In the news:

Wall Street Journal "The SUNY Doctor Who Turns Hitting Into a Real Science"

NautilusHow Utter Darkness Could Heal Lazy Eye

Vision Monday: "VM Most Influential Women in Optical for 2015"

New Paltz Times: "New Paltz optometrist participates in ground-breaking program to improve vision care in South Africa"

Vision Monday: "SUNY Optometry Opens Sports and Performance Vision Center"

September 2, 2015

University Eye Center Promotes Healthy Contact Lens Use

Last week, as part of Contact Lens Health Week sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Optometric Association and several other organizations, the University Eye Center engaged in a proactive, community-wide educational campaign designed to promote proper contact lens wear and safety.

As part of the campaign, community outreach coordinator, Ms. Marinel Pena, along with University Eye Center contact lens technician, Ms. Kali Berrios, engaged with patients, faculty, staff and others in the lobby of the College’s midtown Manhattan building, providing tips and information about safe and effective contact lens wear and storage.  

This is the second year that Contact Lens Health Week has taken place. A CDC report released last month indicated that nearly all of the estimated 41 million contact lens wearers in the United States may be engaging in behaviors that are known to increase their risk of eye infections.

“Because so many people are not fully aware of how to properly wear and care for their contact lenses, we felt it was important to engage with our community and help educate them," Ms. Pena said.

To learn more about healthy contact lens behavior, visit the University Eye Center’s Health Insights

September 2, 2015

Club of the Year: Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry

The Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry has made quite a splash at the College recently. The club regularly engages the majority of the SUNY Optometry community and, as a result, it has helped to facilitate a significant increase in the level of student participation at the Academy Meeting which takes place each fall.

Left to right: Jinyoung Choe, Natalie Nguyen, Celia Gong

Because of the club’s efforts, the Student Council recently named the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry the College’s “Club of the Year.”  

We asked club president and third year OD student, Natalie Nguyen (pictured in the center at left with other members of the club), a few questions about the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry and why she thinks it’s so important for optometry students to get involved with the profession:

Tell us about the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry and the level of student involvement with the club as well as how you got involved and became its president.
The Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry is about promoting excellent vision care through lifelong learning. The club is affiliated with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) which has often used the motto, "Today's Research, Tomorrow's Practice” which is something that we take to heart. The basis of the AAO and the student chapter is the notion that optometry is constantly changing and that the ability to provide the highest quality clinical care comes directly from keeping up-to-date with the most current vision science research as well as through supporting continuing education. The AAO is composed of optometrists and vision scientists, while the student chapter is made up of students who share the same mindset of those in the AAO.

Over 75 percent of the student population at SUNY are members of the club, and we are always welcoming new members throughout the year. I became involved during my second year, after attending a few meetings and learning more about the organization, both at SUNY and at the national level. I became president through an election process and have become more passionate about the club ever since.

My desire to become a Fellow of the Academy after graduation has helped to fuel my enthusiasm for the club now while I am still a student.

What are the goals of the club and what sorts of activities do you engage in?
The club looks to promote student involvement at SUNY Optometry and to encourage students to attend the annual Academy Meeting. We like to encourage all students to become members and to attend the Academy Meeting, whether they are currently engaged in research or not.

Recently, one of our major activities was to conduct a pinning ceremony to honor new Student Fellows who attended the Academy Meeting last year and completed the program. At the ceremony, student fellows receive pins for their white coats and certificates. This was our first pinning ceremony and we’re looking to continue this tradition in the future.

Why do you think it's important for optometry students to be active participants in clubs and in the profession in general?
I think it’s important for students to be involved in clubs and active in the optometric profession both as students and eventually as doctors because optometry is a dynamic field that depends on involvement and support from its members in order to thrive and progress. We are all well aware of the tremendous progress that optometry has made in recent year yet, despite this, we still have a long way to go. It’s important to stay actively involved in national organizations to perpetuate the growing success of our profession.


Membership to the College's Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry is free and open to all OD students as well as to full time students in the vision sciences and in-house residents. In addition, student membership to the AAO is available for a flat fee of $30, which covers all four years of the OD program plus residency for recent graduates. For more information and the application, please visit: www.aaopt.org/student

August 24, 2015

A Closer Look at the 2015-16 Residency Class

In July, SUNY Optometry welcomed a new class of 35 residents who participate in a variety of programs, both at the College and at SUNY-affiliated sites across the region. The residents come from all over the United States, graduating from 11 different schools and colleges of optometry. 

Dr. Rima Bakhru (pictured), a vision therapy resident focusing on neuro-optometric rehabilitation, talks about why she chose her residency and what life is like as a resident:

What was your reasoning for doing a residency? Had you known for a while that you wanted to do one?
For me personally, a residency was always in the cards. I felt that specializing would allow me to provide a higher caliber of care to my patients. Moreover, it would be a gateway to a more challenging and rewarding career path.

Your residency is focused on neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Tell us a little bit about what that is and what interested you in it.
It was during my second year in the OD program at SUNY that I became fascinated with neuro-optometric rehabilitation. It focuses on modifying vision therapy to help patients with neurologically-based visual symptoms. Since this is such a niche field, doing a residency was really important in order to gain the knowledge and experience that I'll need going forward.

Tell us a bit about what your daily life is like as a resident.
My day involves specialized exams where I evaluate patients with acquired or traumatic brain injuries for visual dysfunctions. Many patients have problems with eye teaming (binocularity), depth perception or eye movements after suffering a brain injury. Some of my patients have lost part of their field of vision or see double. When we identify these problems, we design a customized vision therapy regimen for each patient and usually see them on a weekly basis.

What would you say to an optometry student who is thinking about doing a residency but isn't sure?
I think that any student with a passion for a particular area of optometry or a desire to continue expanding their knowledge base should consider doing a residency. It's certainly not for everyone—and many of those who aren't sure if they should do a residency have good job prospects in either case. There’s no doubt that a residency will make you a better practitioner and it can often open up professional opportunities for you down the road as well.


Here are SUNY Optometry's 2015-16 residents, along with their program and alma mater:


Vision Rehabilitation         (Neuro-optometric Rehabilitation) SUNY

Rima Bakhru

State University of New York College of Optometry

VA Harbor Health Brooklyn

Marcella E. Pipitone

Ohio State College of Optometry

Shira Radner

State University of New York College of Optometry

Joanna B. Komar


Mirjeta Abazaga


VA New Jersey

Christine Ahn

Western University of Health Sciences School of Optometry

Violet Ehiem


Stella Lee

State University of New York College of Optometry

Ocular Disease SUNY

Lim, Mi Mi

State University of New York College of Optometry

Prieto, Luisa

State University of New York College of Optometry

Tang, Abby

New England College of Optometry

Tsui, Eva

State University of New York College of Optometry

Fromer Eye Centers

Anna Lange

State University of New York College of Optometry

Pediatrics Optometry SUNY

Noelda Fernandes

Illinois College of Optometry

Elsa Sheerer

State University of New York College of Optometry

East NY Diagnostic & Treatment Center/SUNY

Sarah Zuckerman

State University of New York College of Optometry

Cornea & Contact Lens SUNY

Caitlin Morrison

New England College of Optometry

Primary Care SUNY

Maegan Sauer

State University of New York College of Optometry

Amy Steinway

State University of New York College of Optometry

Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center

Choi, Irene

State University of New York College of Optometry

Desai, Heema

State University of New York College of Optometry

Khattar, Alanna

Southern College of Optometry

Wong, Anna

State University of New York College of Optometry

Hudson Valley VA

Joseph Boos

State University of New York College of Optometry

Lauren Feroli

State University of New York College of Optometry

Ruth Hable

New England College of Optometry

Manju Varghese

UoM St Louis College of Optometry

West Point

Lynn Griffin


Dr. Irwin B. Suchoff Residency Program in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation SUNY

Hamian, Kimberly

State University of New York College of Optometry

Simon, Justine

Western University of Health Sciences School of Optometry

Strawn, Lauren

State University of New York College of Optometry

Northport VAMC

Sarah Arneal

University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

Long Dao

State University of New York College of Optometry

Janette Hang

Western University of Health Sciences School of Optometry

Amy Lam

State University of New York College of Optometry


To learn more about SUNY Optometry's residency programs click here

August 25, 2015

Watch: CSTEP Summer Academic Program

Watch students discuss the SUNY College of Optometry CSTEP Summer Academic Program

To find out more, visit www.sunyopt.edu/cstep

August 21, 2015

South African Optometric Leader Visits Campus

“Optometry is in a very good place around the world.”

This was one of the messages that Ms. Vanessa Moodley, a leader within South Africa’s optometric community, had in a discussion with students and faculty at SUNY Optometry on August 19. Ms. Moodley, a senior lecturer and academic leader in the Department of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, spoke about how activism in organized optometry proved to be pivotal in helping to expand the profession’s role within South Africa’s health care system.

(L to R) Student Council President Vanessa Fimreite, Ms Vanessa Moodley, Vice President for Student Affairs and International Programs Jeffrey Philpott

For a long time, optometry had been largely excluded from the broader health care system in South Africa. In recent years, however, Ms. Moodley said that organized optometry in the country began to shift its focus to demonstrating the variety of ways in which optometrists were regularly improving the health of people throughout South Africa in spite the restrictions that they faced.  Once health care leaders became more aware of the improvements that they were making in the lives of South Africans, optometrists were entrusted with a larger—and growing—role within the health care system there.

Ms. Moodley’s discussion, which included the vice president for Student Affairs and International Programs, Dr. Jeffrey Philpott, and the Student Council president and fourth year OD student, Vanessa Fimreite, was hosted by the College’s Career Development Center. SUNY Optometry created a partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year and has begun working with the university to help train South African optometrists in the use of therapeutic drugs, a gain in the scope of practice that the nation’s optometrists recently achieved.

Students packed Feder Hall during Ms. Moodley's discussion

Ms. Moodley used the example of South Africa, as well as the increasing role that optometrists are playing in health care around the world in recent years, to implore students to take an active role in their profession and help to continue to lead it forward. “You cannot contribute if you’re not in the game,” she told them. 

August 13, 2015

Say Hello to the Class of 2019!

This is when it all begins for SUNY Optometry’s first year OD class.

Today marks the first day of an extensive, two-day orientation program at the College designed to introduce the new class of 100 students to their academic program as well as provide them with their first opportunity to meet their fellow students along with faculty and administrators at SUNY Optometry. The students also got their first glimpse at what life at the College and as a member of the optometric community is all about.  

Organized by the Office of Student Affairs and International Programs, the orientation included small group discussions with various student leaders (pictured above) as well as faculty-led discussions that help to prepare the new students for the challenges that lie ahead of them. Introductions to a variety of College entities, including the library, the University Eye Center and others, as well as discussions on the academic program, research, and student life were also given to the students.

The new students will also attend a reception hosted by the New York State Optometric Association and the College’s Alumni Association and they’ll be treated to a night on the town organized by the Class of 2018.

Fall semester for the first year class begins on Monday.

Click here or on the image above to view pictures from the Class of 2019 orientation

August 7, 2015

‘Practice of Today’ Helping Prepare for Tomorrow

Technology has always played a vital role in the delivery of health care. For generations, new tools have been developed that have continuously and significantly enhanced health care providers’ abilities to diagnose and treat conditions. These developments, in turn, have vastly improved both the experiences and the outcomes for patients.

While the importance of technology in providing quality health care is indisputable, the practical implementation of new technologies into health care delivery is rarely easy. In fact, it's a process that can often be fraught with fear and difficulty. For an educational institution like SUNY Optometry, there is also the additional challenge of trying to preparing doctors for practice in an unknowable future where the only certainly is that future doctors will need to be able to embrace new technologies and practices—whatever they may be—in order to care for their patients.

This is no simple task but Dr. Thomas A. Wong (pictured above with OD student Elizabeth Yusupov), SUNY Optometry’s director of the new technologies, is up for the challenge.

“We’re at a time in our history when new innovations in health care are growing exponentially and it is the obligation of every optometrist to stay current in order to do what’s best for their patients,” Dr. Wong said.

In his new position, Dr. Wong will manage what is known as “The Practice of Today,” a unit within the College’s University Eye Center.

“My vision is to engage patients, students and residents as well as faculty members in creating a model unit for eye care delivery,” Dr. Wong said. “We are looking to set new standards in patient care, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

“The Practice of Today” will begin by analyzing current examination and testing sequences which will allow the new unit to work toward understanding how best to redesign future eye exam processes and how to optimally utilize new and emerging technologies. This will involve gathering data from student interns, faculty and patients, as well as creating discussion and focus groups.  “We want all of our constituents to play an active role in this process,” Dr. Wong said.

The ultimate focus of the College’s new technology unit is to provide the best possible care for patients and to prepare students and residents to deliver that care. “Many emerging technologies are inevitable,” Dr. Wong said. “But often we are not prepared for them to happen. This new unit is designed to help us all become better prepared for new innovations as they develop.”

By exposing students to new technologies as well as new strategies for care delivery, Dr. Wong hopes that the new unit will help them succeed down the road. “I strongly believe that one way to develop good clinical thinking in our students is to take them out of their comfort zone and introduce them to new techniques and new technologies,” he said. 

July 31, 2015

Innovative, Virtual Reality Simulation Laboratory Set to Launch

This fall, SUNY Optometry will introduce the first phase of a state-of-the-art, virtual reality simulation laboratory that will provide students at the College with a unique and impactful new way to hone their critical diagnostic skills. The initial launch of the lab will include eight training simulators—six binocular indirect ophthalmoscopes and two direct ophthalmoscopes—that use an integrated, augmented reality technology that provides a highly realistic, three-dimensional experience for retinal examinations.

The simulators are expected, at least at first, to be used primarily by first and second year OD students, allowing them the opportunity to examine a wide range of realistic, clinically relevant cases prior to doing so on real patients. Each simulation experience is summarized and performance data is stored in a database that will allow faculty members to further examine and analyze students’ diagnostic abilities over a period time.

The indirect ophthalmoscope simulators provide an augmented reality training environment for retinal examinations. Going well beyond two-dimensional images, the technology in the simulators provides a highly realistic, three-dimensional experience. Meanwhile, the direct ophthalmoscopes are handled exactly as they would be in a real-world environment with students examining virtual patients of varying gender and age that react to light the same way that a real patient would.

The simulators contain numerous examples of relevant retina and vitreous pathologies, ranging from macular degeneration and hereditary and diabetic disorders, to tumors in the chorioretinal complex. Case descriptions and clinical records of the virtual patients are also provided.

The new simulation laboratory is part of a growing commitment that the College has made toward increasing the opportunities it provides for its students to build their clinical skills utilizing the most up-to-date tools available.

“This technology provides an excellent way for students to practice difficult skills and get immediate feedback that can be easily monitored,” Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for Academic Affairs said about the simulation lab. “The advanced modules introduce students earlier to a variety of disease states that they can observe in high fidelity simulations that will help prepare them better for actual clinical patient care.”

The first phase of the simulation lab is expected to begin operation by the end of October.

July 22, 2015

CSTEP Program Renewed and Expanded

The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), a New York State initiative designed to increase the number of students from under-represented groups pursuing careers in mathematics, science, technology and health-related fields, is expanding at SUNY Optometry thanks to a renewal of the program grant through 2020.

The grant, which will provide over $575,000 in support for the College’s CSTEP programs, is expected to serve about 300 students over the course of the five-year grant, approximately 60 each year.

“This was a competitive process and we’re thrilled to have had our CSTEP grant renewed for another five years,” Mr. Francisco Lucio, director of career development and minority enrichment at the College said. “The program has been very successful for us and we’re excited to be able to expand our offerings as a result of this grant renewal.”

SUNY Optometry offers two internship programs for undergraduate CSTEP students each year, one in the spring and one in the winter. Under the new grant, those internship programs will expand from 12 to 15 students each. In 2012, the College also began offering an eight-week, credit-bearing optometry course each summer called “Introduction to Vision and Optometry” at no cost to participants. This course, which is considered to be a pre-first year optometry preparation course taught by SUNY Optometry faculty, will expand to 30 students from 24.

The new CSTEP grant will also allow the College to offer a new “Optometry Summit” program. This half-day event will be designed to give CSTEP students the latest information on preparing for the Optometry Admissions Test, as well as other admissions insights and optometry career outlook information.

The program has proven successful. The College admitted six former CSTEP students into its Class of 2018 OD program, an increase of 100% over the previous three years.

“CSTEP has allowed SUNY Optometry to expose so many students to the optometric field who may not have otherwise known much about it,” Mr. Lucio said. “And it’s so gratifying to see that many of these students are now going on to enter optometry school.”

SUNY Optometry is one of only 44 New York State institutions of higher education that offers CSTEP programs.

For more information about CSTEP at SUNY Optometry click here.

June 29, 2015

Alumna Sworn in as American Optometric Association’s President-Elect

SUNY Optometry alumna and faculty member, Dr. Andrea Thau, was sworn in as president-elect of the American Optometric Association at Optometry’s Meeting in Seattle in June.

Dr. Thau was elected to the Board of Trustees of AOA in 2007 and re-elected in 2010. She served as AOA’s secretary-treasurer in 2013-2014 and vice president in 2014-2015. Dr. Thau also served as the first female president of the New York State Optometric Association, the New York Academy of Optometry, and the Optometric Society of the City of New York.

Dr. Thau is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, a Distinguished Practitioner on the National Academies of Practice and a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. A 1984 graduate of College, Dr. Thau serves as an associate clinical professor. She is also the owner of Dr. Thau and Associates, a private practice in Manhattan. She was previously honored as the Alumna of the Year.

A champion of children’s vision, Dr. Thau helped launch the InfantSEE public health program, which, thanks to volunteer AOA optometrists, provides no-cost comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants within the first year of life. She is also a founding member and former vice president of the New York Children's Vision Coalition, a coalition dedicated to mandating eye examinations to children of the city of New York upon school entry. 

The AOA represents approximately 39,000 doctors of optometry and other eye care professionals. 

June 30, 2015

Faculty and Staff News Summer 2015

Two SUNY Optometry Professors Earn Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Faculty members Dr. Julia Appel and Dr. Mark Rosenfield received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during an event honoring scholarly activities at the College on June 9.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is awarded to faculty members from throughout the 64 campuses of the State University of New York system, recognizes consistently superior teaching in keeping with SUNY's commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality. The primary criterion for the award is skill in teaching. Addition consideration is also given to sound scholarship, outstanding service to students, as well as service to SUNY and to the College.

Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso Inducted into the Distinguished Academy

On May 26, Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso was welcomed into the State University of New York Distinguished Academy at an event in Albany. The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon faculty from throughout the SUNY system for achieving national or international prominence and making significant contributions within their field. Dr. Alonso's work has focused on improving our understanding of how visual information is processed in the primary visual cortex.


Dean Yager Award

Dr. Yushi Wang, a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso, was awarded the Dean Yager Award for 2015. The award is given annually to a graduate student at the College. Her main research interest is focused on understanding the organization of topographic maps in visual cortex.



Recent Scholarly Publications/Presentations

An J, Chen X, Chen W, Liang R, Reinach PS, Yan D, Tu L. MicroRNA Expression Profile and the Role of miR-204 in Corneal Wound Healing. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Jun 1;56(6):3673-83. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16467. PMID: 26047168

Benavente-Perez A, Nour A, Ritchey ER, Troilo D (2015) Effectiveness of Low-dose Atropine on the Marmoset Eye. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci Annual Meeting (ARVO). May. Denver, CO.US

Huang R, Rosenfield M. (2015) The effect of dynamic and isometric exercise on refractive state, accommodation and intra-ocular pressure. Adv Ophthalmol Vis Sysy 2(3):00047.

Mroczkowska S, Benavente-Perez A, Patel S, Negi A, Qin L, Sung V, Bentham P, Gherghel D (2015) Retinal Microvascular Dysfunction occurs similarly in Alzheimerís disease and Primary Open Angle Glaucoma patients. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci Annual Meeting (ARVO). May. Denver, CO.US

Rocha EM, Nominato LF, Reinach PS. Re: Cursiefen et al.: Aganirsen antisense oligonucleotide eye drops inhibit keratitis-induced corneal neovascularization and reduce need for transplantation: the I-CAN study (Ophthalmology 2014;121:1683-92). Ophthalmology. 2015 May;122(5):e28. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2014.10.017. No abstract available. PMID: 25919780

Rosenfield M, Jahan S, Nunez K, Chan K. (2015) Cognitive demand, digital screens and blink rate. Computers in Human Behavior 51; 403-406.

Rosenfield M, Portello JK. (2015) Computer vision syndrome and blink rate. Current Eye Research May 14:1-2. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25974683


Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL, Posters/Presentations

Azadi R,  Harwood M. What is visual remapping to saccade adaptation, a cause or a consequence? Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Bachy R, Zaidi Q. Asymmetries and spatial gradients in color and brightness induction. Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Backus BT, Caziot B. Vertical size disparity pooling across attended color and contrast. ? Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Bartov J.  Exploring the veridicality of shape –from-shading for real 3D objects.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Cai, T, Yuan A, Backus BT. Interactions among contrast, spatial displacement, and dichoptic viewing during binocular combination in global motion perception.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Caziot B, Backus BT. Invariance of processing latency across signal types and strengths.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Koch EM, Jin J, Wang Y,  Kremkow J, Alonso  JM,  Zaidi Q. Cross-orientation suppression and the topography of orientation preferences.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Sedgwick, H. A. Mondocular visual perception of target displacements relative to a slanted surface specified by a regular array. Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

June 29, 2015

President Heath Elected to Lead Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry

President David A. Heath has been elected to lead the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), the organization that represents the 21 schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. His term begins on July 1.

Dr. Heath has been involved in optometric education for more than 30 years and has been a member of ASCO’s Board of Directors since 2007. He is also active with the American Optometric Association and the New York State Optometric Association.

“The coming year at ASCO will be one of transition and opportunity as our new executive director, Ms. Dawn Mancuso, begins her tenure and as we initiate a comprehensive strategic planning process,” President Heath said in a statement. “This is an important time as we enter ASCO’s 75th year as an association. As a community, we will embrace this transition as an opportunity to increase the impact of ASCO and to advance optometric education.”

Dr. Heath previously served as president of ASCO during the 2012-2013 academic year.

ASCO’s Board of Directors also elected its Executive Committee during the organizations recent annual meeting. Those elected include: president-elect, Dr. Karla Zadnik, dean and professor at The Ohio State University, College of Optometry; secretary-treasurer, Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe , founding dean at the Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry; at-large member, Dr. David A. Damari, dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University an an alumnus of the College; as well as immediate past-president Dr. Jennifer Coyle, dean of Pacific University, College of Optometry.

June 30, 2015

Residency Program Recognizes 40th Class

Earlier this month, SUNY Optometry bid farewell to its 2014-15 class of residents, awarding 37 doctors across 15 different programs with Certificates of Advanced Clinical Competency.

Dr. Mitchell Scheiman, who completed a vision therapy residency at the College in 1976, was presented with the Distinguished SUNY Residency Alumni Award during the ceremony. Dr. Scheiman is known internationally for his work and research in the areas of binocular vision, vision therapy and rehabilitation. He is the fourth recipient of the College's annual residency alumni award. 

The Dr. Martin H. Birnbaum Memorial Award was presented to Dr. Caitlin A. Eleftherion.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the completion of the first residency class at the SUNY College of Optometry which consisted of four vision therapy residents. The vision therapy residency program has gone on to set the standard for rehabilitation residency programs nationwide. In 2003, the program was named the Dr. Irwin B. Suchoff Residency Program in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation to honor the program’s first residency supervisor, and the nation’s first residency director, Dr. Irwin Suchoff. 

View and download images from the event by clicking on the picture below

June 23, 2015

Community Outreach Coordinator Helping to Extend Care to the Underserved

Last September, when Ms. Marinel Pena began working in the newly created position of community outreach coordinator, her goal was to significantly expand the level of care and education that the College and University Eye Center provide to people throughout New York City.  “I want to introduce SUNY Optometry and the University Eye Center to as many new people and organizations as possible,” Ms. Pena said. “We care for a lot of patients in the UEC and I’m eager to do what I can to expand that critical work well beyond our building.”

Since then, Ms. Pena has made significant headway toward that goal. Her efforts to organize and conduct screenings, health fairs and presentations at schools, community centers, senior facilities, corporate offices and other venues throughout the five boroughs have helped to make an immediate impact, raising the overall level of the College’s community outreach by more than 20 percent over the previous year.

The community outreach coordinator position, which was funded by a two-year grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, was designed specifically to help the College and the UEC provide assistance and much-needed care to a broad range of culturally diverse people of all ages. A particular emphasis has been placed on reaching members of the New York City community who often face barriers to obtaining vision care. “There are so many people in our community—whether they are older and facing serious risk for conditions like glaucoma, AMD or diabetic retinopathy, or whether they are children working hard to succeed in school—who just aren’t aware of the importance of quality eye care,” Ms. Pena said. “My job as community outreach coordinator is to find the people who often slip through the cracks and help them learn about the importance of good eye care and help them receive that care.”

In order to reach many of these people, Ms. Pena has initiated a unique collaboration with New York’s diplomatic community. Working with the consulates of several nations, including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador and Columbia, Ms. Pena has been able to reach many of the immigrant members of those communities and organize opportunities to provide education and care.  

“Many of the people in these communities don’t often have the opportunity to receive quality eye care,” Ms. Pena said. “They may see a physician who doesn’t bother to check their eyes or doesn’t do anything beyond checking their visual acuity. We want people to understand why comprehensive eye and vision care is so important and we want to have the opportunity to catch any problems before they potentially affect somebody’s sight.”

Despite her robust work in the community, Ms. Pena activities are not limited to off campus. Her work has also included spearheading health awareness campaigns throughout the College Community itself, including National Heart Health Awareness Day and National Health Care Decisions Day. These initiatives helped to bring faculty, staff, students and patients together to promote wellness.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help educate people about the importance of good eye and vision care and to help them receive the care that they need,” she said. “But there’s still a lot more work to be done and I’m looking forward to continuing to build on our community outreach efforts moving forward.”

June 10, 2015

Study to Test Light Deprivation as Treatment for Amblyopia in Adults

What would you be willing to do to find a treatment for a persistent vision problem?

Dr. Ben Backus (pictured), an associate professor at SUNY Optometry, is hoping that adults with amblyopia will be willing to spend ten days in total darkness. Dr. Backus is the principle investigator in a National Institutes of Health-funded study that is looking to use light deprivation as a way to tackle an often incurable condition in adults.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a common visual disorder in which a person has poor vision in one eye due to an asymmetry in the quality of visual input from the two eyes. The poor vision—which can range from slightly degraded vision to almost complete blindness—cannot be fixed with corrective lenses because the deficit induces changes in the vision centers of the brain. Typically amblyopia develops during early childhood as a result of the brain forming a poor connection to one eye. In children, amblyopia is often treated by covering the good eye with a patch and forcing the brain to improve how it works with the bad eye. As children age, however, the brain becomes less malleable making patching a less viable treatment option. As a result, amblyopia is nearly impossible to treat in adults using this conventional method.

Dr. Backus’s study, which is being done in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan of the University of Maryland as well as SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Cristina Llerena and Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso, could offer hope for adults who suffer from amblyopia, as well as potentially open new doors for treatment of other conditions such as traumatic brain injury.

“Our primary goal is to determine whether or not we can retrain the adult visual system by depriving it of input for an extended period, and then restoring that input,” Dr. Backus said. “But, if we find that ‘dark treatment’ is effective in treating amblyopia, it could also potentially open the door to a variety of other conditions that could be improved if the brain can be made more plastic in adults.”

At the heart of the study is a 10-day sequestration period during which subjects will live in complete darkness. This will be followed by binocular vision training that, if successful, could pioneer the use of visual deprivation to improve the success of therapies for treating adult amblyopia. For the ‘dark treatment’ the study will use an apartment in Brooklyn that has been specifically set up to block out all light. Subjects will not be able to use objects that emit even the faintest light, including cellphones and electric tooth brushes. Participants will have meals prepared for them, as well as plenty of opportunities to listen to music, engage in discussion and activities as well as exercise to keep their spirits up.

Dr. Backus and Mr. Morgan Williams, a research technician, both underwent five days of light deprivation in 2012 to test the feasibility of the study. While they encountered some challenges living in total darkness, they both found the experience to be far less daunting than anticipated. “We called ourselves ‘scotonauts,’ since ‘scoto’ is the Greek word for darkness” Backus said.

Dr. Backus (left) and Mr. Williams after emerging from five days of light deprivation in 2012

"In the dark some common tasks like eating and dialing phone numbers created some interesting challenges,” Williams said. “But the experience was surprisingly relaxing and not scary at all, not even with the hallucinations.” It turns out that putting oneself into total darkness can cause vivid hallucinations after a day or two—Dr. Backus saw landscapes, interior scenes and building facades in great detail. The hallucinations are a positive sign, according to Dr. Quinlan, because they may reflect enhanced excitability in networks of visual neurons.

While the concept of living in the dark for 10 days may seem unusual, it isn’t without precedent. So-called “darkness retreat facilities” exist throughout Europe and some schools of Tibetan Buddhism practice "dark retreats" that can last for days, months or even years.  Most importantly for the purposes of this study, visual deprivation has been shown to reactivate plasticity and promote the recovery from amblyopia in animal models including rodents and cats.

The study also represents a unique clinical application for basic research and will provide an opportunity for close collaboration with the College’s Clinical Vision Research Center


The study, known as Project LUMA, has begun the process of recruiting subjects. To learn about how to become a subject in the study, visit the Project LUMA website.

Read more about this research in Nautilus
May 31, 2015

Class of 2015 Celebrated and Honored at Commencement

It was a day to honor a momentous achievement, while also recognizing the opportunity and possibility that such an achievement represents, at the SUNY College of Optometry’s 41st commencement at the Hudson Theatre on Sunday, May 31.

Indeed, the Class of 2015 had achieved a lot during its time at the College. But class president Heema Desai echoed a sentiment shared throughout the day when she urged her fellow graduates to continue to challenge themselves and remember that their education was far from over.

(left to right) Dr. Neil Calman, Dr. John Dowling and Mr. Daniel Biederman with President Heath

Commencement speaker, Dr. Neil Calman, a noted advocate for providing quality health care to the underserved, encouraged the new doctors to “make time to give back to society” and to use their unique skills to “make the world a better place.” He challenged them to always operate with the highest possible integrity, treat their patients with the utmost respect and to remember that the patient should be the one in charge of his or her care. He welcomed the Class of 2015 to the health care team and implored them to lead it forward. [To read Dr. Calman's full address click here]

Harvard University’s Dr. John Dowling, one of the most influential scientists in the field of retinal research in the world and Mr. Daniel Biederman who helped transform Bryant Park, which is located across the street from the College’s campus, received honorary degrees during the ceremony. In addition, long-time faculty member and administrator, Dr. Michael Heiberger (pictured, on the left), was awarded the Presidential Medallion and Mr. Richard Feinbloom (with Dr. Heiberger), who has spent decades supporting the College and its foundation, the Optometric Center of New York, was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award. (For more about the honorary degree recipients and the commencement speaker click here)

Two SUNY Optometry faculty members (pictured, left) also received awards from the New York State Optometric Association: Dr. Steven Schwartz was honored as the NYSOA Optometric Educator of the Year and Dr. Ilana Gelfond-Polnariev received the NYSOA Young Optometrist of the Year award.

In the morning, prior to commencement, two dozen awards were handed out to students from the Class of 2015. The ceremony in the College’s Schwarz Theater included clinical, service and professional distinction awards. In addition, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award winners were recognized as well as the New York State Optometric Association student service award winner.

“This institution has always played a leadership role in patient care, education and research,” President David A. Heath told the audience. “And it is because of the excellence of our students and faculty that we are able to achieve this distinction.”

Click here to view and download photos from commencement and the awards ceremony

Below is a complete listing of the awards and their winners:

For Student Excellence (Sponsored by State University of New York)

Kathleen Kelly Abarr
Rima Gopal Bakhru

Academic and Clinical Awards

For Academic Excellence (Sponsored by Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honorary Fraternity)

Christine Elizabeth Corrente

For Outstanding Clinical Performance in Vision Therapy (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Lauren Michelle Strawn

For Excellence in Vision Therapy (Sponsored by COVD)

Kimberly Hamian

For Academic and Clinical Achievement in Ocular Pathology (Sponsored by the Class of 1936, Columbia University, School of Optometry)

Lisa E. Steele

For Excellence in Primary Care (Sponsored by the Class of 1991, SUNY College of Optometry)

Sarah D. Zuckerman

For Proficiency and Excellence in Practice Development and Administration (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Jenny Michelle Soo Hoo

For Outstanding Clinical Proficiency in Low Vision (Sponsored by Designs for Vision, Inc.)

Julia Simon

For Excellence in Low Vision (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Michele A. Espinosa

For Outstanding Compassion in Patient Care (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Joseph Jerry Mateo Gonzales

For Excellence in Optometry (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Sarah D. Zuckerman

For Academic Excellence (Sponsored by the Benjamin Franklin Society)

Kenneth P. Wenthen III

Service Awards


For Volunteer Commitment to Community Service (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Anna Lange

For Student Leadership within Organized Optometry (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Stefan Levay-Young

For Distinguished Service to the College Community (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Elsa Caroline Sheerer
Heema N. Desai


For Outstanding Service to the Class of 2015 (Sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York)

Heema N. Desai

Professional Distinction Awards

For the Outstanding Case Report on the use of an Alcon Product (Sponsored by Alcon)

Angela Giangngoc Nguyen

For Outstanding Clinical Proficiency in Contact Lenses (Sponsored by GP Lens Institute)

Bailey C. DeGlopper

For Excellence in Ocular Disease (Sponsored by Alcon)

Bailey C. DeGlopper

For Excellence in Low Vision (Sponsored by Eschenbach)

Sallie J. McPherson

For Excellence in Practice Management (Sponsored by Marchon Eyewear)

Tyler J. Maxon

 Excellence in Optometry (Sponsored by MiraMed Tech)

Maegan Rae Sauer


For Excellence in Clinical Contact Lenses Patient Care (Sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, Inc.)

Sarah D. Zuckerman

May 29, 2015

Capstone Helps Prepare Class of 2015 for Success

For optometrists, education is a career-long endeavor. Keeping on top of the latest technologies and treatments, monitoring the activities of various professional associations, understanding the shifting sands of the scope-of-practice as well as a host of other responsibilities all come with the profession. For the Class of 2015, their last day in the Doctor of Optometry program at SUNY Optometry became the first day of this life-long learning process as they took part in the College’s first-ever capstone program.

The day-long event on May 29 was organized as a way to help launch the newly minted ODs into their careers with the most up-to-date information available, and help to prepare them for the rapidly evolving health care landscape.

“As their experience in optometry school closes,” Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for Academic Affairs said. “We wanted them to think of this event as the beginning of their continuing professional education and the start of an exciting professional lifetime of learning.”

The capstone, which was sponsored in part by several industry partners, covered a variety of topics, including issues related to scope-of-practice, updates on new and emerging technologies, new developments with devices and instrumentation, including pharmaceuticals and contact lens, as well as discussion about state and national professional organizations and more.

“Things are changing so quickly in this profession,” Dr. Troilo said. “And we have a responsibility to make sure that our graduating ODs have the most up-to-date information possible and that they are prepared to not only enter the profession but to thrive and to lead it forward.”

May 23, 2015

White Coat Ceremony Recognizes Class of 2017

With a large crowd of family and friends in attendance, the Class of 2017 had its white coat ceremony in the College’s Schwarz Theater on May 21, marking their transition from the second to third year of the Doctor of Optometry program at SUNY Optometry.

The ceremony, which has become a commonly held event at health profession educational institutions across the country in recent years, has been conducted every year at SUNY Optometry since 2011. Since students receive their white coats when they enter the College, SUNY Optometry instead issues the students with pins that they wear on their coats. The 92 students of the Class of 2017 received their pins during the ceremony which has traditionally been used to mark the transition between the students classroom education and their clinical training. With changes in the curriculum in recent years, however, students begin their clinical responsibilities in their first year of the OD program. Still, the students’ clinical responsibilities grow considerably in the third year of the program and the white coat ceremony provides an opportunity to recognize and honor that critical transition.

This is a pivotal event in the development of our students,” President David A. Heath told the gathering. “You are now a part of the patient care team.” But, he reminded the students and their families, that, while this is a very notable milestone in their educational history, it is unique in that it isn’t only about the students themselves. Instead, President Heath said, the ceremony signifies that the students have reached a level of knowledge and experience that allows them to take on the important responsibility of caring for others, something that needs to done with the utmost level of care and professionalism.

Vice president for Clinical Affairs, Dr. Richard Soden, helped to organize the event with the president of the Class of 2017, Allison LaRue. Both Dr. Soden and Ms. LaRue addressed the audience during the ceremony, as well as the chair of the Department of Clinical Education at SUNY Optometry, Dr. Richard Madonna, the president of the SUNY Optometry Alumni Association, Dr. Denise Whittam and SUNY Optometry alumnus, and the parent of a Class of 2017 student, Dr. Richard Chute.

Dr. David Troilo, Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs, read the names of each student and Dr. Soden pinned their white coat after they walked across the stage. Once all of the pins were received, students Kelly Voltz, an American Optometric Student Association trustee, and Michael Wallerich, the New York State Optometric Association Student Representative, led a reading of the optometric oath.

A reception followed the ceremony which was sponsored by Alcon, Allergan, Essilor, Luxottica, Topcon, the NYSOA and the College’s foundation, the Optometric Center of New York.

May 8, 2015

Faculty and Staff News May 2015

Below is a roundup of the recent activity of our faculty and staff, including publications, presentations and staff news:


Benavente-Perez A, Nour A, Troilo D. Axial Eye Growth and Refractive Error Development Can Be Modified by Exposing the Peripheral Retina to Relative Myopic or Hyperopic Defocus (2014) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55(10):6765-73. 

Dul MW, Ennis R, Radner S,  Lee B, Zaidi Q, Retinal Adaptation Abnormalities in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2015;56:1329-1334.

Kinoshita BT, Chalmers RL,  Mitchell GL, Richdale K, Lam DY, Sorbara L, Jansen ME, Wagner H. Rate of Change and Predictive Factors for Increasing Minus Contact Lens Powers in Young Myopes. Clinical and Experimental Optometry (In Press Feb 2015)

Kruger, PB (2014). Chromatic Aberration as a Possible Cue to Specify the Sign of Defocus in the Eye. Invited Presentation, University of Murcia, Spain, December.

Li S, Nguyen TT, Bonann JA.  CD147 required for corneal endothelial lactate transport.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Jul; 55(7): 4673–4681

Madonna RJ, Gould J (2015) Exfoliation Syndrome. Int J Ophthalmol Eye Res. S1:005, 23-26.

Nehmad L, Madonna RJ. The Effect of IOP on Clinicians’ Perceptions of Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy. J Opt Educ 2015;40; 83-

Orlansky G, Wilmer J, Taub MB, Rutner D, Ciner E, Gryczynski J., Astigmatism and Early Academic Readiness in Preschool Children. Optometry and Vision PAP 12/26/2014

Steele LE, Backus BT. The measurement of suppression in the visual field of amblyopes. Optom Vis Sci 2015;91:E-abstract 140041.

Wagner H, Richdale K, Mitchell GL, Lam DY, Jansen ME, Kinoshita BT, Sorbara L, Chalmers RL. Age, Behavior, Environment and Health in the Soft Contact Lens Risk Survey. Optometry and Vision Science (2014) 91(3)252-61. PMID 24445722

Invited Talks/Presentations

Appel J, Mozlin R. (2014). Thinking Outcomes Measure: The Efficacy of Critical Thinking Assessments in Predicting Clinical Success. Journal of Optometric Education, Summer 2015. Vol. 39.

Dziubek A, Benavente-Perez A, Rusjan E, Thistleton W (2014) How to Validate a Mathematical Model of the Eye. Effect of Vascular Geometry and Curvature on Ocular Perfusion. SUNY Eye Institute Meeting (SEI), September. Syracuse, NY

Kruger, PB (2014). Chromatic Aberration as a Possible Cue to Specify the Sign of Defocus in the Eye. Invited Presentation, University of Murcia, Spain, December 2014.

Richdale, K. Evidence Based Practice: Cornea and Contact Lens Care, Marshall B Ketchum University, Southern California College of Optometry; Fullerton, CA, January 2015

Schwartz, S.H. (2014). Planning and assessment at smaller institutions. Middle States Commission on Higher Education Annual Meeting (Washington, DC).

Dr. Richard Madonna will represent the American Optometric Association on the National Quality Forum's (NQF) Eye Care and Ear, Nose and Throat Standing Committee.  The NQF sets standards, identifies quality improvement priorities, recommends measures for use in payment and public reporting programs, and provides information to help healthcare decision-makers with a goal of helping the nation achieve better and affordable health care.

ARVO 2015 Annual Meeting, May 03 - 07, 2015 Denver, Colorado Posters/Presentations

Bass S, Epshtein D, Nath S, Sherman J.  Phenotypic Variability in a Pedigree with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Benavente-Perez A, Nour A, Ritchey ER, Troilo D (2015) Effectiveness of Low-dose Atropine on the Marmoset Eye. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. ).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Bloomfield S, Kumar S, Akopian A. Blockade of Retinal Gap Junctions Offers Significant Neuroprotection in an Experimental Mouse Model of Glaucoma. ).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Chao C, Golebiowski B, Zhou X, Chen S, Zhou S, Stapleton F. Tear CGRP and SP and corneal reinnervation after LASIK. ).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Dias L, Paula J, Domenegueti Ferreira L, Dias A, Reinach P, Luis Lopes Saraiva A, Rocha E. Capsaicin-induced responses in cornea: behavioral pain in TRPV1 knockout mice and nitric oxide antagonism.   ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Fimreite V, Ciuffreda K, Willeford K. Effect of Band-Pass Chromatic Filters on the Visually-Evoked Potential Amplitude and Latency in the Visually-Normal Population. ).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Joshi N, Ly E, Viswanathan S. Intensity response function of the Photopic Negative Response (PhNR). ).  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Kumar S, Akopian A, Bloomfield S.  Secondary cell death via gap junctions mediates the loss of amacrine cells in a mouse model of experimental glaucoma.  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Kusumoto K, Okada Y, Tomoyose K, Miyajima M, Reinach P, Saika S. Roles of TRPA1 cation channel receptor signal in development of stromal neovascularization in a mouse cornea.  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Mroczkowska S, Benavente-Perez A, Patel S, Negi A, Qin L, Sung V, Bentham P, Gherghel D (2015) Retinal Microvascular Dysfunction occurs similarly in Alzheimer’s disease and Primary Open Angle Glaucoma patients. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Okada Y, Shirai K, Reinach P, Miyajima M, Saika S. Impairment of cornea epithelium wound healing in a TRPA1-deficient mouse.  ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Pan F, Bloomfield S.  Pharmacological effects on excitability and threshold sensitivity of mouse retinal ganglion cells. ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Rajagopalan L, Patel N, Ivers K, Sredar N, Viswanathan S, Porter J, Harwerth R, Frishman L. Early changes in structure and inner retinal function in experimental glaucoma. ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Vasudevan B, Ciuffreda K, Lin Z, Yun M, Wang NL, Liang YB. Nearwork induced myopia and permanent myopia: a 3 year longitudinal study. ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Willeford K, Ciuffreda K, Zikos G. Objective Assessment of Eye Dominance ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Yadav N, Ciuffreda K.Visual-Evoked Potential (VEP) to Measure Visual Attention Objectively in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Yadav N, Ciuffreda K. Nearwork induced myopia and permanent myopia: a 3 year longitudinal study. ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Yan D, Chen X, Chen W, Reinach P, Tu L. Bioinformatic Analyses of Signaling Pathway Networks and miRNA Expression Profile Changes Contributing to Corneal Epithelial Wound Healing. ARVO, Annual Meeting, May 2015, Denver, CO.

Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL, Posters/Presentations

Azadi R,  Harwood M. What is visual remapping to saccade adaptation, a cause or a consequence? Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Bachy R, Zaidi Q. Asymmetries and spatial gradients in color and brightness induction. Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Backus BT, Caziot B. Vertical size disparity pooling across attended color and contrast. ? Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Bartov J.  Exploring the veridicality of shape –from-shading for real 3D objects.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Cai, T, Yuan A, Backus BT. Interactions among contrast, spatial displacement, and dichoptic viewing during binocular combination in global motion perception.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Caziot B, Backus BT. Invariance of processing latency across signal types and strengths.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Koch EM, Jin J, Wang Y,  Kremkow J, Alonso  JM,  Zaidi Q. Cross-orientation suppression and the topography of orientation preferences.  Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Sedgwick, H. A. Mondocular visual perception of target displacements relative to a slanted surface specified by a regular array. Vision Sciences Society Annual Conference, May 2015, St. Petersberg, FL.

Staff News

Mr. Louie Bacosa (center, with medal), media specialist/systems support specialists in the Information Technology Department received the 2015 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Services last month. President Heath presented Mr. Bacosa with the award and he will be formally honored at the 2015 Recognition of Faculty and Staff in December. The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Services is designed to recognize staff members who give consistently superior achievement within and beyond their assigned duties.

May 19, 2015

Dr. Tamara Petrosyan Named AOA’s Young Optometrist of the Year

Dr. Tamara Petrosyan, a 2009 graduate of SUNY Optometry and an assistant clinical professor at the College, has been named the 2015 Young Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association. Dr. Petrosyan will be recognized, along with five other national AOA award winners, at a ceremony on June 24 at Optometry’s Meeting in Seattle.

After graduating from the College in 2009, Dr. Petrosyan completed a residency at the Northport VA Medical Center where she specialized in ocular disease, vision therapy, head trauma and low vision. In 2011 she joined SUNY Optometry as an Assistant Clinical Professor where she helps to supervise third and fourth year clinical interns as well as primary care residents. Dr. Petrosyan’s work also extends to the East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center where she engages in primary care and ocular disease care, working closely with students, residents and an ophthalmologist. Until recently, she also worked at the Refuah Health Center, where she provided comprehensive eye exams and vision therapy for the pediatric population.

“Working at the College has been a big highlight in my career so far,” Dr. Petrosyan said. “It has given me the opportunity to work with many talented people, be part of a wonderful team of practitioners and I get to be an educator as well.”

Helping to train future doctors and being immersed in an academic environment has been particularly rewarding for Dr. Petrosyan who has published and lectured extensively over the last few years. “Academia stimulates you to be at the forefront of your field,” she said. “And it helps to nurture your leadership ability as well.” Being able to work with the latest technology, participate in interprofessional care, as well as have the opportunity to learn about and participate in the latest research has helped to make her experience at the College particularly gratifying.

Despite having only been an optometrist for a short time, Dr. Petrosyan’s career has been accomplished and fulfilling so far. Beyond her patient care, educational and research activities, she is also an active member of the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians. In 2013, Dr. Petrosyan was appointed as a member of the society’s board of directors and, last year, she was appointed as the head of its Young OD taskforce in order to help engage young members, as well as its Vision Therapy taskforce.  Dr. Petrosyan is also the New Jersey state liaison for the InfantSEE program, a national, AOA-sponsored  public health program that promotes eye and vision care as an essential part of infant wellness care.

Dr. Petrosyan credits much of her success to her active involvement in the profession. “My advice to all of my graduating students and residents is to stay involved,” she said. “They don't have to be on the board of directors or chair a committee, but staying involved in the profession is a great advantage. Being an active part of your local society creates camaraderie and helps keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in optometry. Also, just because you're not a student anymore does not mean that you stop learning. There is always room to strengthen your skills and improve your knowledge base. Find what you love to do and try to be the best you can at it.”

April 15, 2015

SUNY Optometry Community Advocates for Optometry on Capitol Hill

More than two dozen students, faculty and alumni from SUNY Optometry took part in the American Optometric Association’s annual Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC in April. The conference is designed to focus a spotlight on optometry and help to advance its legislative priorities within the federal government.

View some photos of the College contingent by clicking the image below

May 7, 2015

College to Honor Trailblazing Leaders at 2015 Commencement

SUNY Optometry will award honorary degrees to trailblazers in the divergent fields of urban development and vision science, and welcome a notable proponent of health care equality to address graduates during the College’s 41st commencement at the Hudson Theatre on Sunday, May 31. 

Mr. Daniel Biederman is a pioneer among privately funded urban and public space management. His work in turning Bryant Park, which is located across the street from the College’s Midtown Manhattan campus, into one of the most beautiful and visited public spaces in New York City has earned him an international reputation. In addition to his work with two other New York City partnerships—the 34th Street Partnership and the Grand Central Partnership—Mr. Biederman has expanded his focus beyond the city as a private consultant. He has advised Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and designed the plans for new or improved parks in Pittsburgh, Newark, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Richmond and Atlanta. In addition, he has brought to London (at the request of the deputy prime minister) the framework for the first BIDs in the United Kingdom. Mr. Biederman is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He was also awarded an MBA from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. Among other honors, he is the recipient of the Manhattan Institute’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. John Dowling is the Gordon and Llura Gund Professor of Neurosciences Emeritus at Harvard University. For the past 40 years, he has been the most influential scientist in the field of retinal research. Dr. Dowling played a pivotal role in establishing the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Dr. Dowling is the author of more than 225 peer-reviewed publications and his numerous contributions through research have made him one of the most prolific and important thinkers in vision research today, for both clinical aspects encompassing the cause of retinal degenerations and for the basic science aspects of understanding the functioning of the normal vertebrate retina, including its development and genetics.  Dr. Dowling has also oadvanced retinal research into the forefront of neuroscience. Among his honors are the Friedenwald Medal, the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research and the Von Sallman Prize. He has served as the Eldridge Green Lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

The commencement address will be given by Dr. Neil Calman, chair of Mount Sinai’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Dr. Calman also serves as president, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Institute for Family Health, one of the largest networks of community health centers in New York State. He is a board-certified family physician who has practiced in the Bronx and Manhattan for more than 30 years. Dr. Calman leads a variety of cutting-edge programs to provide high quality care in medically underserved communities and is an outspoken advocate for eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care and health outcomes. Dr. Calman has been recognized for his work in advancing the use of electronic health records to improve care and in 2009 was appointed by the Obama Administration to serve on the national Health Information Technology Policy Committee which makes recommendations on the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure. He has received numerous awards for his leadership and advocacy, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation‘s Community Health Leadership Award, the Pew Trusts’ Primary Care Achievement Award and the Kanter Prize from the Health Legacy Partnership.


In addition, during commencement two long-time members of the College community will be honored:

The Presidential Medallion will be awarded to Dr. Michael Heiberger. Last year, the Presidential Medallion was inaugurated to honor an outstanding member of the faculty who has spent the majority of his or her career at the College and who has made significant contributions to its legacy. Dr. Heiberger joined the institution in 1967 as assistant director of the Optometric Center of New York – the College’s predecessor. He was a founding member of the College faculty in 1971 and served as the director of student services. As the College’s first vice president for student affairs, he helped to create the foundation for student policies and procedures which have lasted for nearly 45 years. Dr. Heiberger was also SUNY Optometry’s inaugural director of International Programs and played an instrumental role in the College’s work in China.

The Benjamin Franklin Award will be given to Mr. Richard Feinbloom. This award has traditionally been given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the OCNY as well as to the College. Mr. Feinbloom has built a long legacy with the institution. His generosity helped to establish the College’s first endowed chair and, as the immediate past president of the OCNY, he played a major role in helping it meet and exceed the $10 million goal in its first official fundraising campaign last year. As the president and CEO of Designs for Vision, Mr. Feinbloom holds more than 75 patents in the medical industry.

(Photo credits: Biederman - Steve Fenn; Calman - The Institue for Family Health; Dowling - Charles Cochran)
April 29, 2015

OCNY Committee Helps College Broaden its Reach into the Community

Dozens of attorneys and two surrogate judges intermingled with faculty members and administrators of SUNY Optometry at the Lambs Club in Midtown Manhattan earlier this month as part of what has become an annual event hosted by the Trust and Estates Committee of the Optometric Center of New York, the affiliated foundation of the College. 

Faculty members and administrators, including President David A. Heath, Ms. Ann Warwick, Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez, Dr. Richard Soden, Dr. Richard Madonna, Dr. Harriette Canellos, Dr. Neera Kapoor, Dr. Erica Schulman and Dr. Suresh Viswanathan all interacted with guests and helped to better acquaint them with the work that they do at the College. Several trustees of the OCNY were on hand during the evening as well. As a result of past dinners, the OCNY has received a total of $65,000 from the attorneys' clients including foundations and trusts. The annual dinner provides an opportunity to broaden the reach of the OCNY and the College into the greater New York community.

The Trust and Estates Committee was initiated by Mr. Hal Wilshinsky, an OCNY trustee, who has served on a similar committee at Baruch College. The Committee currently has a total of 14 members.

Click here to see all of the photos from the event

April 24, 2015

VisionWalk 2015

Over 170 members of the SUNY Optometry community participated in VisionWalk 2015, the signature fundraising event of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, in Central Park on April 18. SUNY’s participation was organized by Dr. Susan Schuettenberg who was also medical co-chair for the event. The SUNY team won the “Overall Team Spirit” award and raised $6,000 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. You can still support the SUNY Optometry VisionWalk team here

To view images from the day, click on the photo below

April 22, 2015

Eye Ball 2015

Check out the photos—sponsored by the SUNY Optometry Alumni Association—of Eye Ball 2015.

(Click on the image above to access the photos)

April 1, 2015

Scholarly Activities for April 2015


Dul MW, Ennis R, Radner S,  Lee B, Zaidi Q, Retinal Adaptation Abnormalities in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2015;56:1329-1334.

Song JH, McPeek RM. Neural correlates of target selection for reaching movements in superior colliculus. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Mar, 113: 1414-22.

Willeford KT, Ciuffreda KJ, Zikos G. Objective assessment of eye dominance using the VEP: A pilot study. Eye and Contact Lens. In press. PMID 25828514.

The paper by Dr Mark Rosenfield entitled, "Computer vision syndrome: a review of ocular causes and potential treatments",  was the most popular downloaded paper in 2014 from the international journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, being downloaded 3,699 times in the year. It was also the most popular downloaded paper from the same journal in 2013.



Dr. Stewart Bloomfield will be speaking at ARVO on “Blockade of Retinal Gap Junctions Offers Significant Neuroprotection in an Experimental Mouse Model of Glaucoma.”  His presentation was picked as a "Hot Topic" by the ARVO Glaucoma Section.

April 10, 2015

New System Will Streamline Care Delivery and Improve Communication in University Eye Center

As it prepares for the future, the University Eye Center has partnered with NextGen Healthcare to develop a series of electronic solutions that will enable the clinic to better manage its patient care activities more efficiently. The new system, which will start to come online on June 1, includes a new electronic health records system that will allow health information to be seamlessly and securely shared between health care providers. The UEC will also be implementing systems that will facilitate improved scheduling, prescribing and billing for patients, as well as a secure portal that will provide enhanced communication between doctors and staff and their patients. The new system will also enable the UEC to provide patients and practitioners with robust reports much more efficiently. In most cases, a patient visit summary can be generated on the same day of their visit.

“The UEC is investing in the latest information technology to enhance our clinical information systems, promote research studies and improve our patients' health care outcomes and experiences,” said Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez, vice president for clinical administration and executive director of the University Eye Center. “Accordingly, NextGen, a leader in the health information technology industry, is providing our organization with an integrated solution to securely document and access information as well as streamline our clinical and operational functions.”

This new system, which will be implemented in phases, includes an electronic health record, a practice management system, including appointment scheduling and billing, as well as an optical management program. Once the system is fully operational it will improve collaboration and enhance coordination between providers. It will also be fully compliant with ICD-10, Meaningful Use Objectives and Physician Quality Reporting Initiatives. It will help to improve care for patients by focusing on their outcomes as well as by providing such things as electronic prescriptions and improved and more efficient communication.

The second phase of the project, which will be completed later this year, will include the implementation of a patient portal and a picture archiving and communications system (PACS).  The patient portal will create a secure avenue for communication between patients and their providers and the PACS system will enable the providers to manage patient and diagnostic data in a centralized manner.

“This is an exciting time for the University Eye Center as we work together to bring the latest technology to support and advance our mission to continually improve the care that we deliver to our patients,” Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez said.

April 13, 2015

In Pictures: The 4th Annual Career Symposium: The Emerging Professional

The College’s 4th Annual Career Symposium: The Emerging Professional, took place on April 12. Conceived by the Career Development Center, the annual symposium is designed to provide students and residents at SUNY Optometry with additional, highly valuable information that will help them as they launch their careers. This year’s symposium focused heavily on professionalism and included sessions on how to best transition from the classroom to the clinic, how interprofessional practice will impact the future of health care, tips on dealing with generational conflicts, insight into personal branding and engaging one’s entrepreneurial spirit and advice on avoiding legal issues.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Ramanathan Raju, the president and chief executive officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal health care system in the nation.  Dr. Raju’s remarks focused squarely on the important role that future health care leaders will play in advocating for patients.

Take a look back at some of the images from the day’s events:

April 4, 2015

Two SUNY Optometry Students Earn Chancellor’s Award

State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher presented 2015 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence to Kathleen Abarr and Rima Bakhru, two OD students from the College, on April 2 in Albany. In all, 256 students from across the State University of New York’s system received the award which is given annually.   

“It is my highest honor to recognize the achievements of SUNY students who have excelled not only academically but as leaders on their campuses and in their communities,” said Chancellor Zimpher.

Kathleen (pictured, top, with Chancellor Zimpher and the College's Mr. Vito Cavallaro) has served as vice president and fellow of the student chapter of the American Academy of Optometry. She was the first author on a poster presentation at the organization’s annual meeting in 2014 and a member of the International Optometric Honor Society, Beta Sigma Kappa.

Rima (pictured, below) served as Student Council president and as a teacher and mentor for CSTEP students. She also volunteered to provide eye exams at homeless shelters as part of NYSEE 20/20 as well as at the Special Olympics. Rima organized a month-long diabetes awareness campaign for the SUNY Optometry community.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement or career achievement.

Each year, SUNY campus presidents establish a selection committee, which reviews the accomplishments of exemplary students. Nominees are then forwarded to the chancellor’s office for a second round of review. Finalists are then recommended to the chancellor to become recipients of the award. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and medallion, which is traditionally worn at commencement.

March 22, 2015

Video: Interprofessional Practice

Members of the College’s New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) Student Society organized a panel discussion about interprofessional practice in health care for Vision Expo East in March. As part of that discussion they put together the following video that addresses the importance of both interprofessional education and practice: 

March 10, 2015

SUNY Professors Collaborate to Build a Better Brain Probe

The National Institutes of Health calls it America’s next moonshot: a revolutionary, historic effort to view the human brain’s 86 billion neurons in action and transform our understanding of how we think, move, and perceive the world around us. Last year, in its first round of applications, the NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) awarded $46 million in grants, and when the winners of the second round are announced later this spring, SUNY College of Optometry Professor Jose-Manuel Alonso and SUNY Polytechnic Institute Professor of Nanoscale Engineering Ji Ung Lee hope their names will be on the list. 

Professors Alonso (left) and Lee

"There’s a major emphasis coming from the NIH to improve the tools we have to study the brain, and there are many labs trying to come up with better probes that can be inserted into the brain,” says Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso. “The traditional approach is to make the probe really thin at the tip, which minimizes any potential damage, and thick at the top, which keeps the probe from breaking. But there are still problems with that approach, and we think we have the solution.” 

“We’re going to use our fabrication capability, which is probably the most advanced facility within academia, to make the features smaller and the density higher,” says Dr. Lee, Professor of Nanoscale Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY Poly CNSE) in Albany. “It will be a very high aspect ratio probe, requiring processes that we know should work, but have never been tried.” 

In response to the NIH, SUNY created its own Brain Network of Excellence, one of six networks to maximize interdisciplinary and collaborative neuroscience research across the state university system. In 2014, Alonso and Lee met at the network’s inaugural Stony Brook workshop, and before the end of the year, SUNY Brain awarded them a $150,000 seed grant to begin envisioning their prototype. 

As Alonso and Lee describe it in “A novel ultra-thin multielectrode probe for neuronal recordings," the probe will have an outer diameter of 40 microns, with 64-72 iridium electrodes densely packed into a 40 x 40 x 2500 micron area. It will be inserted through a narrow guide tube, attached to an implanted microdrive, and connected through a set a cables to provide ground, reference, and power. 

Unlike the current generation of passive probes, the SUNY ultra-thins will use smart electronics, with a CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) chip to amplify, filter, and digitize the neuronal signals. The prototypes will be thin enough for multiple probes to be inserted in clusters, and preliminary results suggest they can remain implanted for years at a time and moved independently through the visual cortex, with enough stability to provide consistently high-quality recordings without compromising the health of the surrounding tissue. 

For Alonso, it’s a logical next step after more than twenty years of studying how the brain processes visual stimuli. From the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Rockefeller University, the University of Connecticut, and now SUNY Optometry, he’s focused on two main structures early in the visual pathway: the thalamus, which is sometimes described as a “switchboard” that relays information to the cerebral cortex, and the primary visual cortex, one of the best-mapped, most well-understood areas of the brain. 

“Vision offers this wonderful window to understand how the brain works,” says Alonso, who ultimately hopes the probes will help lead to the next generation of neuroprostheses. “We have been using multi-electrode arrays for decades, and we have learned more about the visual brain than any other sensory brain structure. Now, with the new BRAIN initiative, there are funds available for physiologists and engineers to talk to one another, to work together, and to help us do what we have wanted to do for so long.” 

Alonso will guide the design of the probes; Lee will fabricate them utilizing the world-class resources available at SUNY Poly CNSE’s $20 billion Albany NanoTech Complex; a third collaborator, Zhi Yang, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Singapore, will create the chip that sits at the top of each probe; and a fourth, Harvey Swadlow, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Connecticut, will design the microdrive that guides the probe into the brain. Their first goal is to utilize new advances in miniaturization of integrated electronics to build a better nano-device, and their second is to demonstrate proof-of-concept by safely inserting the probes for long periods of time. 

“From the engineering side, we’ve learned a lot about how brain circuitry works, but there are still many things that we don’t understand,” says Lee. “New ideas arise when different disciplines can come together and share their unique capabilities. This is the cutting edge of research, so it is very exciting to be part of it, and I believe this is just the beginning.”

Adapted from an article written for the SUNY Research Foundation

March 23, 2015

Optometric Center of New York Honors Angel Alvarez at 12th Annual ‘Eyes on New York’ Gala

It was a snowy yet festive spring evening at one of New York City’s most iconic locations last Friday when the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), the foundation of the SUNY College of Optometry, held its 12th Annual “Eyes on New York” gala.

(Left - Right) Dr. Allan Barker, Ms. Barbara Saltzman and Mr. Angel Alvarez

This year, the OCNY honored Mr. Angel Alvarez, the founder and CEO of ABB OPTICAL GROUP, one of the nation’s leading distributors of optical products, at the famed Plaza Hotel. At the helm of ABB OPTICAL GROUP for more than 25 years, Mr. Alvarez’s strategic direction for the company has led to the success of thousands of eye care professionals. The company’s philanthropic organization, ABB Cares, has worked to make a positive impact on local communities through its signature annual grants program which is designed to support non-profit organizations nominated by eye care professionals.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher

Ms. Barbara Saltzman, president of the OCNY board of trustees, welcomed those in attendance and introduced State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher who served as honorary chair of the event. Chancellor Zimpher offered praise for the work that both the College and the OCNY have done and continue to do throughout their community, providing vital care for those in need, as well as invaluable support for research and scholarship.

SUNY College of Optometry President David A. Heath offered his gratitude to faculty, staff, alumni, friends and supporters who have provided their broad support to both the foundation and the College. “As is often the case, success, excellence, impact—the hallmarks of greatness—are gained only through the ongoing contributions of many,” he told the gathering.

Dr. Allan Barker, president of Eyecarecenter which operates a series of clinics throughout North and South Carolina, served as corporate chair of the event and introduced Mr. Alvarez who told the audience that he was both humbled and honored to be recognized by the OCNY.

(Left - Right) Ms. Barbara Saltzman, President David A. Heath and Dr. Neera Kapoor

For the first time in its history, the OCNY board of trustees voted this year to present an OCNY President’s Award to a member of the College’s faculty who “symbolizes the spirit of the Foundation.” The inaugural award was presented during the evening to Dr. Neera Kapoor, associate clinical professor and chief of Vision Rehabilitation Services at the College.

Singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb at the gala, pictured with OCNY trustee Mr. Kevin Kelly


Held each year in conjunction with Vision Expo East, the “Eyes on New York” gala has become one of the marquee events on the ophthalmic industry’s calendar, as well as a critical fundraiser for the Optometric Center of New York. Since its founding in 1956, the OCNY has had an ongoing commitment to the New York community and beyond through its support of scholarships for students, vision science research and eye and vision care for those who cannot afford it or don't have access to it.


To view and/or download all of the photos from the gala, click here

Watch the video that was shown at the gala below:

March 20, 2015

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Leader to Give Keynote at Career Symposium

One of the nation's most highly regarded health care leaders will give the keynote address at SUNY Optometry's 4th Annual Career Symposium: The Emerging Professional on April 12, 2015. 

Dr. Ramanathan Raju (pictured, above), who holds both an MD and an MBA degree, is the president and chief executive officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal health care system in the nation. Dr. Raju was appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in January 2014 to lead the 37,000 employees of this $6.7 billion corporation, which includes 11 acute care hospitals, five nursing homes, six large diagnostic and treatment centers, more than 70 community-based health centers, a large home care agency and one of the New York area's largest providers of government-sponsored health insurance. Last year, HHC facilities served 1.4 million New Yorkers – including more than 475,000 uninsured. Prior to joining HHC, Dr. Raju was the chief executive officer for the Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) in Chicago, Illinois, the third largest public health system in the country.

Dr. Raju began his medical career at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn and went on to serve as the chief operating officer and medical director at HHC's Coney Island Hospital. Then in 2006, he became the HHC chief medical officer, corporate chief operating officer and executive vice president. Dr. Raju attended Madras Medical College to earn his medical diploma and his Master of Surgery degree. He underwent further training in England and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Dr. Raju is also a physician executive, having obtained an MBA from the University of Tennessee and CPE from the American College of Physician Executives.

Dr. Raju is the recipient of numerous national recognitions. In 2014, he was #37 on Modern Healthcare’s list of the nation’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.” Modern Healthcare also named him one of the “Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare” and one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare” in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, he was named a Business Leader of Color by Chicago United.

For the fourth year in a row SUNY Optometry’s Career Development Center has organized the Career Symposium as a way to prepare its students, residents and alumni for careers in the fast- moving and ever-changing health care environment. In addition to Dr. Raju’s keynote, this year’s event will feature sessions on how to successfully move from the classroom to the clinic, including addressing issues such as branding and entrepreneurship, as well as sessions that tackle broad topics such as interprofessional practice. The symposium also provides plenty of opportunity for interaction and networking.

“We’re very excited to have Dr. Raju, a truly prestigious national leader in health care, provide his valuable insight about the changing health care landscape during this year’s Symposium,” Mr. Francisco Lucio, director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment at SUNY Optometry said. “His participation will provide an enormous benefit to the participants.”

February 1, 2015

Trust and Estates Committee Provides Financial Guidance to Students

Two members of the Optometric Center of New York's Trust and Estates Committee, Ms. Christine Chang and Mr. George Spiropoulos, along with two of their colleagues in the financial industry, recently moderated a presentation to students at the College on financial planning. In addition to advice on personal financial planning, the presentation addressed issues such as debt, business planning and contracts.

The Trust and Estates Committee was formed in 2013 and has regularly offered its considerable, collective expertise on financial matters to both the Foundation and to members of the College community.

March 13, 2015

Residents’ Day 2015

On March 12-13, 2015, the residents at SUNY Optometry each presented on a topic relevant to their educational specialty as part of a continuing education program at the College.

See photos from some of the presentations below. To view the list of the presentations click here

March 1, 2015

Scholarly Activities for March 2015


Law, Cristina Llerena, Siu,Matt, Modica, Patricia A, Backus, Benjamin T. Stimulus Characteristics Affect the Assessment of Pupil Defects in Amblyopia. Optometry and Vision Science. 2015 Apr; 92(5)

Zheng Q, Ren Y, Reinach PS, Xiao B, Lu H, Zhu Y, Qu J, Chen W.Reactive oxygen species activated NLRP3 inflammasomes initiate inflammation in hyperosmolarity stressed human corneal epithelial cells and environment-induced dry eye patients.  Exp Eye Res. 2015 Feb 18. pii: S0014-4835(15)00047-0. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.02.013. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 25701684

Nehmad L, Madonna RJ. The effect of IOP on clinicians' perceptions of glaucomatous optic neuropathy. Optom Ed 2015; 40; 83-88.

Orlansky, Gale; Wilmer, Jeremy; Taub, Marc B.; Rutner, Daniella; Ciner, Elise; Gryczynski, Jan. Astigmatism and Early Academic Readiness in Preschool Children. Optometry & Vision Science. 2015 March 2015 92(3)

March 10, 2015

New Vice President for Clinical Administration and Executive Director of the UEC Named

President David A. Heath announced on February 26 that Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez would assume the role of vice president for clinical administration and executive director of the University Eye Center.

Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez’s appointment follows a national search which began last fall when President Heath announced that Dr. Richard Soden, the current executive director of the UEC, would move into the newly created position of director of health care development.

Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez, who has served as the UEC’s chief operating officer since 2006, has more than 25 years of experience in health care management. In addition to her role as COO, Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez has served as associate director for clinical administration (1992 – 2006) and as assistant director for clinical administration (1990 – 1992) at the UEC.  Before joining the College, Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez worked for the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, the organization that operates the public hospitals and clinics in New York City, at the Morrisania Neighborhood Family Care Center in the Bronx.  She received her MS in Public Health in 1987 from the University of Massachusetts and her BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1984.

“Liduvina has tremendous experience and insight,” President Heath said. “With her in this role I am confident that the University Eye Center will be in excellent hands as we move forward.”

The next four months will serve as a transition period between Dr. Soden and Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez who intends to initiate broad dialog and engagement among faculty and staff. “I have great affinity for the University Eye Center and SUNY Optometry,” Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the UEC and I’m looking forward to engaging our entire community as we move the clinic forward.”

With Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez assuming this new role, President Heath also announced the start of a national search for the position of chief medical officer.


To see the announcement of the appointment in Vision Monday click here

March 11, 2015

SUNY Research Team Targets Myopia

Myopia—or nearsightedness—comes from the Greek myops, literally meaning “closing the eyes.” Myopic also has a metaphorical usage in English that connotes shortsightedness or lacking understanding—a definition that may describe the prevailing treatment of myopia.  Fortunately, thanks to funding from the SUNY Brain Network of Excellence, a multidisciplinary team of SUNY researchers is working to help open our eyes to a new understanding of what drives myopia's onset and progression, with a goal of uncovering new treatments for this widespread eye disease.  

The team working on this research is led by Dr. Stewart Bloomfield (pictured, above), SUNY Optometry's associate dean for graduate studies and research. He is joined by fellow SUNY Optometry researchers, Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso, a SUNY distinguished professor, and Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for academic affairs at the College. The other members of the research team include Dr. Eduardo Solessio, assistant professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience and physiology at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Dr. Gary Matthews, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University.  

Myopia is a highly pervasive medical condition, affecting 42 percent of adults in the US and more than 80 percent of young adults in Asia. It’s also a disease that’s on the rise. Currently, 1.4 billion people globally suffer from myopia, and that number is projected to rise to 2.4 billion by 2050. Yet to date it has been managed only symptomatically with prescription glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery, which do not prevent myopia’s progression over time. 

Numerous studies suggest that the increased incidence of myopia may be due in part to lower exposure to natural light, a theory that is supported by higher myopia rates in North America and Asia than in South America and Africa, where people spend much more time outdoors on average. “We know that our eyes weren’t created to be indoors all the time,” says Dr. Bloomfield. “When we spend too much time indoors, we don’t get enough of the kind of light our eyes need.”  

Dr. Bloomfield cautions that myopia should not be viewed a harmless nuisance, but rather as a serious condition—because it increases a person’s risk of vision-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. Given myopia’s huge impact and potential implications, it may seem surprising that more effort hasn’t been put into better understanding myopia’s causes and potential treatments.  

Dr. Bloomfield says that myopia has not been adequately studied, but that the funding from SUNY Brain could lead to important advances that could benefit billions of people around the world. “This is a very important health problem, and with this research, we’ll have much more information about myopia’s causes and ultimately help us offer actual treatments.”  

To study both what brings myopia on and what makes it worse, the SUNY team will be looking at multiple environmental and genetic risk factors for myopia, developing innovative animal models using zebrafish and mice. These species lend themselves to quick genetic changes, allowing for accelerated findings.  

Depending on the results of the study, Dr. Bloomfield says, the team might work on a wearable electronic device that would help track “illuminance”, or a person’s exposure to the kind of light necessary for healthy eye development. If they are able to isolate the genetic marker responsible for myopia, the study may even lead to research on gene therapy. While myopia may have multiple genetic causes, the team believes that a protein called Connexin 36 could be a prime suspect. With the help of lab mice that have Connexin 36 “knocked out”, the SUNY team hopes to learn a lot about how this protein may impact myopia. “We’re raising some mice in low light to compare how myopia develops in mice with and without Connexin 36,” Dr. Bloomfield explains. “Once we have completed this study, we’ll have a much better idea of the causes.” Then, he says, the team will be in a position to start work on wearable monitors and other kinds of treatments.  

Asked whether this research will benefit adults who have more advanced myopia, Dr. Bloomfield says it’s too early to tell. But certainly the work of this team will shed new light on how nearsightedness might treated—or even prevented—in the future, perhaps stemming the tide of increasing cases of myopia worldwide.

To hear an interview on WXXI News, the NPR-affiliate in Rochester, NY, with Dr. Bloomfield about the research click here

Adapted from an article written by Alice Oldfather for the SUNY Research Foundation

October 1, 2014

Speaking with Ms. Barbara Saltzman, President of the OCNY

On October 1, Ms. Barbara Saltzman took over the presidency of the Optometric Center of New York Board of Trustees from Mr. Richard Feinbloom. Ms. Saltzman has been a member of the OCNY Board since 2009. We asked her a couple of questions about the OCNY as she prepared to take over its leadership.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became involved with the OCNY?

A: I was the president and CEO of a contract sales company in the pharmaceutical industry for many years so health care has always been something that I’ve been closely involved with and interested in. After I sold my business I really wanted to do the things that I never had the time to do while I was running my company and I wanted to give back in a way that was meaningful to me. When I met President Heath I knew that this was the right organization for me. I’m a person of action—I like to get things done—and his vision helped me recognize that there was a lot going on at the College and so much that the OCNY was doing to make a difference.

Q: The Vision and the Promise campaign is now completed and the Foundation is providing more support than ever to students at the College as well as for patient care and research activities. The OCNY is in a very strong position as you take on the role of president of the Board of Trustees. How are you looking to build on this success?

A: Completing the campaign shows that we have the ability to raise significant funds, however we’re far from finished. It’s important to understand that the end of the campaign is really only the beginning of what we need to do. The board is very pleased with how the OCNY has been able to support the education, patient care, research and community outreach goals of the College but there is so much more work that needs to be done. Resting on our laurels is not an option or else we’ll lose the great momentum that we’ve gained. We have a terrific and extremely active board at the OCNY—Richard Feinbloom was a fantastic president and each of the trustees has made an enormous impact, both individually and collectively. I look forward to building on the successes of the board and expanding it in order to bring in even more individuals with different perspectives and from different walks of life. This is an extremely exciting time to be involved with the OCNY and the SUNY College of Optometry and I’m really looking forward to using the momentum that we’ve gained from completing The Vision and the Promise campaign to propel us to even greater heights.

October 1, 2014

Speaking with Dr. Denise Whittam, President of the Alumni Association

In July 2013, Dr. Denise Whittam, a 1991 graduate of the College, became the president of the Alumni Association. We spoke with her about staying connected to her alma mater and her goals for the future of the Alumni Association.

Q: You’re a 1991 graduate and, obviously, you’ve stayed involved with the institution since you graduated. Can you tell us why staying connected to your alma mater has been important for you?

A: Staying connected to SUNY through the Alumni Association has strengthened the bonds of friendship, professionalism and camaraderie that I have with my colleagues. It has been an extremely gratifying experience to meet students on Orientation Day, see them develop into clinicians, joining our professional arena as they receive their white coats at their White Coat Ceremony, following them throughout their academic and clinical experiences to that special toast that we give as they graduate. I remind everyone that commencement is just that—a beginning of their professional journey. Realizing that our colleagues are here for us, through good times and bad, bonding each and every day, adds a dimension of support, dedication and love for this dynamic profession. I am obviously passionate about this choice I have made in my professional life and with every story I hear from colleagues, I feel even more enthusiastic and positive. I have grown with the profession and I have acquired, cultivated and cherished so many special bonds of friendship with my colleagues who have become a part of my extended family.

Q: With every new graduation the alumni family at SUNY Optometry grows larger. As it serves this larger community, what sort of developments would you like to see from the Alumni Association over the next year and beyond?

A: My dream for the Alumni Association is to bring all levels of the optometric experience together, starting with the first-year students, through graduation, and well beyond. I believe that many of the more experienced doctors can learn a lot from our new graduates entering the profession, especially in areas such as technology and methodology. At the same time, our new doctors, as well as future doctors, will gain invaluable experience working with successful, established clinicians who practice optometry every day. I would love to see even more growth in our mentorship programs and increased communication in the ways in which we can move optometry forward as a profession. 

December 1, 2014

Looking Closely at Clinical Skills

In recent decades, the various health professions have been placing their educational focus on the definition of competency and its assessment as a means for assuring that the practitioners that they train possess the attributes required of independent care providers. The days of using clock hours as a proxy for learning are long gone.

Like its sister professions, optometric education’s use of defined competencies has evolved with the health care system, becoming more sophisticated. Historically, optometric education centered on the teaching of clinical skills, (or techniques), that were used in the measurement of refractive error, binocular vision or eye health. While technical skills remain an important part of practice, far greater emphasis is now being placed on the analytical or cognitive skills required in the application of testing results within an evidence-based framework to assure the best patient care outcomes.

The SUNY College of Optometry has worked to develop and apply effective measures of competencies, together with the essentials of evidence-based practice, to assure that its students develop into clinicians who are able to provide the best and most informed care for their patients. As part of its current strategic plan, the College has committed itself to continually improving and evaluating its evidence-based clinical training and ensuring that it anticipates future trends in health care.

“A student’s ability to gain and demonstrate competencies rather than simply the number of hours spent in the classroom has long been a part of optometric education,” says SUNY Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath. “The historic focus on technical skills is a by-product of our evolution as a profession and a side-effect of the fact that technical skills are the easiest to directly observe and assess. The focus today must be on developing a clear understanding of evidence-based care, cognitive skills, critical thinking, patient communications and team-based practice. Assuring competency in these areas is far more challenging but it’s a challenge we’re gladly embracing,” he continued.

Dr. Richard Madonna, chair of the Department of Clinical Education, explains that his department, in conjunction with the vice president and dean for academic affairs, Dr. David Troilo, recently initiated the “Core Experiences Project” to identify and develop several distinct areas of clinical competency which students must demonstrate proficiency in prior to completing the Doctor of Optometry program. These competencies fall within four core areas: refractive care, sensorimotor conditions, disease and trauma and interprofessional practice.

“Every student must meet a specified number of points in each core area in order to assure that they have sufficient experience in those areas,” Dr. Madonna explains. “Clinical grading is based upon the effective delivery of patient care as well as the student’s interpersonal skills, communication ability and professionalism.”

These areas reflect the key elements of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s publication, “Attributes of Students Graduating from Schools and Colleges of Optometry Report,” which the committee used as a broad template for defining the core experience and developing the competencies. Dr. Madonna stresses, however, that the core competencies are not static requirements but are, in fact, specifically designed as the foundation of a dynamic process that takes into account how optometrists will practice in the future. “Optometrists are continuing to evolve from measurers to assessors” he notes. “Technology is now allowing many of these measurements to be taken by instruments that can be run by technicians. It is essential that optometric training recognize this.”

There is a clear paradigm shift in clinical education away from the delivery of procedures and towards an increased emphasis on understanding of the scientific underpinnings of those procedures. “The level of skill needed to perform a procedure may change,” Dr. Madonna explains. “But students will need to spend more time working to understand the meaning of test results and how best to utilize those results to provide evidence-based care as part of a broader health care team.” This shift is something that administrators have been paying close attention to, particularly in the face of health care reform. “All signs point to the fact that, in the future, health care will be delivered by teams consisting of individuals from different professions,” Dr. Madonna says. “So it is essential that our students are trained to work as part of these teams.”

Dr. Troilo notes that it is the College’s “role to educate students in the critical assessment of standards of care and evidence-based practice in order for them to deliver the best patient care available.” Moreover, Dr. Troilo recognizes that the College also has an obligation to ensure that it plays a role as a source of that evidence through its own robust clinical research efforts.

February 16, 2015

SUNY Optometry Helps to Expand Eye and Vision Care in South Africa

The global presence of the SUNY College of Optometry, which has been steadily expanding, now extends into Africa. Recently, the College entered into a partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa to assist that institution’s Department of Optometry in training South African optometrists in the use of therapeutic drugs.

As a result of a recent expansion in the scope of practice in South Africa, the nation’s 3,000 practicing optometrist will require detailed training in order to be licensed to prescribe ocular therapeutics for their patients. UKZN will be the first institution in the nation to offer such training. SUNY Optometry’s specific expertise in this area was a major draw for UKZN and one of the reasons they were eager to move ahead with the partnership. As the scope of practice for optometrists expands in South Africa, educational institutions there are looking to benchmark their optometry programs against North American programs, which are considered by many to be the gold standard of optometric education worldwide.


Dr. Philpott (far left) with Dr. Ann Beaton (second from left), Dr. Brian Hall (second from right) and Dr. Guilherme Albieri (far right) of SUNY and Mr. Goodman Cele and Ms. Moodley of UKZN last year during a visit to South Africa


Ms. Vanessa Moodley, academic leader and senior lecturer in the Department of Optometry at UKZN, has worked closely with Dr. Jeffrey Philpott, vice president for Student Affairs and International Programs, as well as Dr. Richard Madonna, chair of the Department of Clinical Education, to initiate and develop the program which will be taught by Dr. Madonna as well as SUNY Optometry’s director of Residency Education, Dr. Diane Adamczyk and Department of Biological and Vision Sciences faculty member, Dr. David Krumholz, beginning later this year.

“The relationship that we’re developing with UKZN has the potential to have a significant impact for people in developing communities in Africa,” Dr. Philpott said. “This partnership also has great potential to provide exciting and fruitful opportunities for our own students and residents as well.”

SUNY Optometry is also in discussions with UKZN about collaborating on the development of an eye and vision clinic that would be located in the city of Durban in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Despite high instances of ocular and systemic disease, the region does not have an adequate eye and vision clinic. In addition to serving as a comprehensive teaching institution, the proposed clinic would provide much-needed primary and advanced care for children and adults, including treatment for ocular disease, rehabilitative services and cataract surgery. It would also offer community outreach services for the greater KwaZulu-Natal province, a region in dire need for such care.

The College could potentially help to staff the proposed clinic through a new resident program, as well as through potential externship opportunities for fourth year OD students.

February 8, 2015

Scholarly Activities for February 2015


Bachy R. & Zaidi Q., 2014. Troxler fading, eye movements, and retinal ganglion cell properties. i-Perception, 5(7), pp.611–612.

Dul M,  Ennis R, Radner S, Lee B, and Zaidi Q. (2015) Retinal Adaptation Abnormalities in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.  Inves. Ophthalmol Vis Sci. January 22, 2015.  IOVS-14-15725.

Ferreira JD, Chahud F, Ramalho LN, Modulo CM, Vieira LC, Reinach PS, Rodrigues MD, Cunha AS, Paula JS. Rosmarinic Acid Suppresses Subconjunctival Neovascularization in Experimental Glaucoma Surgery. Curr Eye Res. 2014 Dec 11:1-7. PMID:25494917

Jansen, M., X. Li, R. Lashgari, J. Kremkow, Y. Bereshpolova, H. A. Swadlow, Q. Zaidi and J. M. Alonso (2014). Chromatic and Achromatic Spatial Resolution of Local Field Potentials in Awake Cortex. Cerebral cortex. PMID: 25416722. PMCID.

Mergler S, Valtink M, Takayoshi S, Okada Y, Miyajima M, Saika S, Reinach PS. Temperature-sensitive transient receptor potential channels in corneal tissue layers and cells. Ophthalmic Res. 2014;52(3):151-9 PMID:25301

Wang, Y., J. Jin, J. Kremkow, R. Lashgari, S. J. Komban and J. M. Alonso (2015). Columnar organization of spatial phase in visual cortex. Nature neuroscience 18(1): 97-103. PMID: 25420070. PMCID: 4281281.

Xiao B, Wang Y, Reinach PS, Ren Y, Li J, Hua S, Lu H, Chen W.Dynamic Ocular Surface and Lacrimal Gland Changes Induced  in Experimental Murine Dry   Eye. PLoS One. 2015 Jan 15;10(1): e0115333. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115333. eCollection 2015


Presentations and Invited Talks

Dr. Stewart Bloomfield gave a talk at the RF Brain Network of Excellence meeting in Buffalo on "A multidisciplinary approach to prevention and treatment of myopia".



Dr. Mark Rosenfield was recently appointed a Visiting Lecturer Professor in the Department of Optometry at Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel.

February 17, 2015

Program Offers Students Exposure to the Business of Health Care

Michael Wallerich, a second year OD student at SUNY Optometry, is one of several students at the College who has taken advantage of a unique program that provides students with advanced knowledge of the business of health care. Michael’s interest in optometry and the ophthalmic industry began while he was still in high school and he started working in the eyecare center at Shopko, a retail chain that operates stores throughout the Midwest. After several years there Michael gained an understanding of the business of optometry—from the clinical to the retail and beyond—and his interest was piqued.

“I’ve spent a lot of time around the health care industry in general and I’ve always been interested in the clinical side of things as well as in research,” Michael (pictured, left) said. “But I’ve also become really interested in the business aspects of health care as well and I recognize the importance of it as I pursue my career.”

Two years ago, SUNY Optometry signed an agreement with SUNY Empire State College to jointly develop and deliver a first-of-its-kind program among schools and colleges of optometry. The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Optometry Business Management, an 18-credit, six-course program, is also fully applicable to the MBA program offered by Empire State. The program was specifically designed to provide OD students at the College with the opportunity to expand their knowledge of business practices and theory as a way of complimenting their optometric education and, because the portion of the program that is taught by Empire State is done entirely online, it also provides flexibility for busy OD students.

In the fast-moving, ever-changing health care environment, the need for practitioners to learn and understand the business of health care has become an indisputable fact. Students are catching on to this reality. In fact, SUNY Optometry’s program was developed as a direct response to the increased level of interest from students, not only within optometry, but throughout the various health care professions.

Shortly after he arrived at the College in August 2013, Michael learned about the program and enrolled. While the extra workload hasn’t always been easy to balance with his optometric responsibilities, the flexibility of the program has helped him develop a suitable schedule for his studies. His drive to learn as much as he possibly can has been a strong motivator as well. In fact, Michael recently decided to enroll in the full MBA program at Empire State.

“I’m really looking to gain as much as I can from my experiences at SUNY Optometry,” he said. “I’m active in the New York State Optometric Association and I participate in other activities on campus as well. I see the MBA as part of the learning process that I’m engaged in while I’m here and it’s been enormously rewarding so far.”

Michael has found his interaction with other students in the program to be helpful, particularly because many of them have come to the program from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. As a result, they regularly offer different perspectives on the issues being addressed.

“Optometry is in an exciting place within the health care right now,” Michael said. “And it’s important for those of us within optometry to understand as much as we can about health care and the world around it so that we can help lead our profession forward.”    

Michael also recognizes that what he learns in his business courses now will help him later on when he’s delivering care to patients.

“As a practitioner, I believe that the more you know about the business of health care, the better doctor you will be,” he said. “Not only will this knowledge help doctors understand the big picture more fully—how the system works from broad and varied perspectives—but it could also help them get into leadership positions where they could effect change within the system itself. That’s something that’s very exciting to me.”

To learn more about SUNY Optometry’s Advanced Graduate Certificate in Optometry Business Management click here

February 9, 2015

President Heath Gives State of the College Address

On February 9, President David A. Heath updated the College community on the state of the institution. Below is a video summary of the address that he gave to the College:

To view President Heath's entire presentation click here

February 6, 2015

SUNY Optometry Goes Red for Heart Health

On February 6, the SUNY College of Optometry community saw red...and helped to bring awareness about heart health issues in the process. 

In conjunction with National Wear Red Day, a heart health awareness campaign created a dozen years ago by the American Heart Association, the College community engaged in its own heart health awareness activities aimed at patients in the University Eye Center as well as faculty and staff members.

SUNY Optometry’s student chapter of the American Public Health Association, along with community outreach coordinator, Ms. Marinel Pena, and other members of the UEC, offered heart health information and tips to people entering the building. The focus this year was placed on emphasizing that relatively minor lifestyle changes could ultimately have a big impact on an individual’s heart health.

Take a look at some highlights from the day’s activities:  

You can view even more photos by clicking here

December 20, 2014

Scholarly Activities for January 2015


Hei, X., C. R. Stoelzel, J. Zhuang, Y. Bereshpolova, J. M. Huff, J. M. Alonso and H. A. Swadlow (2014). Directional selective neurons in the awake LGN: response properties and modulation by brain state. Journal of neurophysiology 112(2): 362-73. PMID: 24790175.  PMCID: 4064408.

Jansen, M., X. Li, R. Lashgari, J. Kremkow, Y. Bereshpolova, H. A. Swadlow, Q. Zaidi and J. M. Alonso (2014). Chromatic and Achromatic Spatial Resolution of Local Field Potentials in Awake Cortex. Cerebral cortex. PMID: 25416722. 

Khajavi N, Reinach PS, Slavi N, Skrzypski M, Lucius A, Strauß O, Köhrle J, Mergler S. (2014). Thyronamine induces TRPM8 channel activation in human conjunctival epithelial cells.Cell Signal. 2014 Nov 21. pii: S0898-6568(14)00361-1. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2014.11.015. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:25460045

Long J, Rosenfield M, Helland M, Anshel J. (2014) Visual ergonomics standards for contemporary office environments.  Ergonomics Australia 2014; 10: 1-7.

Reinach, PS, Chen WW and Mergler S. (2014) Importance of Thermosensitive TRP Channels to Ocular Surface Health: invited review EYE AND VISION On Line Publication Wenzhou Medical Unviersity

Swanson, W. H., Malinovsky, V. E., Dul, M. W., Malik, R., Torbit, J. K., Sutton, B. M., & Horner, D. G. (2014). Contrast sensitivity perimetry and clinical measures of glaucomatous damage. Optometry and Vision Science, 91(11), 1302.

Swanson, W. H., Horner, D. G., Dul, M. W., & Malinovsky, V. E. (2014). Choice of Stimulus Range and Size Can Reduce Test-Retest Variability in Glaucomatous Visual Field Defects. Translational vision science & technology, 3(5).

Swanson, W. H., Dul, M. W., Horner, D. G., Liu, T., & Tran, I. (2014). Assessing Spatial and Temporal Properties of Perimetric Stimuli for Resistance to Clinical Variations in Retinal Illumination. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 55(1), 353-359.

Wang, Y., J. Jin, J. Kremkow, R. Lashgari, S. J. Komban and J. M. Alonso (2014). Columnar organization of spatial phase in visual cortex. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 25420070. 



Pola J, Matin E, and  Matin, L.  The relation of perisaccadic perceived location to eye position and time. Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, November 2014,  Washington DC.

McPeek RM, Ray S, Park J-H. (2014). Correlates of saccade target selection in simultaneously-recorded frontal eye field and superior colliculus local field potentials. Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, 238.16.

Reinach, P. (2014)  Novel Options for Suppressing TRPV1 Channel Activation In Ocular Surface Cells, Xiamen University, Dept. of Ophthalmology, Xiamen China

Schwartz, SH. (2014). Planning and assessment at smaller institutions. Middle States Commission on Higher Education Annual Conference (Washington, DC).

Zhao, L, Komban S, Alonso JM, Zaidi Q, Dul M, Accuracy and Detection Rate of Increment vs. Decrement Stimuli in Patients with Glaucoma, poster, 21st International Visual Field and Imaging Symposium, New York, NY, September, 2014.

November 1, 2014

NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry Continues its Support of Scholarship at the College

The New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Optometry (NJAO) has maintained a long-standing partnership with SUNY Optometry. Recently, the organization has focused on building an endowed scholarship for New Jersey-resident OD students at the College, making regular—increasing—financial contributes to the fund since 2009. The NJAO has also regularly provided travel scholarships to students from SUNY in order to enable them to attend the American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting.

In addition to this commitment to the profession of optometry through philanthropic support of scholarships at the College, the NJAO has also shown a dedication to optometry through its own educational activities, including an annual continuing education conference that is open to all optometrists. This year, on April 22-26, the chapter will hold its 13th annual education conference in Myrtle Beach. The event featuring, Dr. Mark Friedberg and Dr. Alan Kabat, includes up to 16 hours of COPE approved continuing education credit as well as opportunities to golf and socialize. More information about the event can be obtained by clicking here

SUNY has been a regular supporter of the American Academy of Optometry and its faculty and students have had significan participation at the national level as well as in various chapters throughout the country.

December 22, 2014

Alumnus Takes Leading Role in ‘Smart Lens’ Project

When health care and technology intersect, exciting advances in patient care often follow. And SUNY Optometry alumnus, Dr. Joe Rappon, happens to be right in the middle of what could be a ground-breaking collaboration that might have the potential to help millions of people manage a chronic, often deadly, disease more effectively. 

Dr. Rappon (pictured, left), who received both his OD and MS degrees from the College in 2000, serves as a global program head at Alcon Research and is currently working on a unique collaborative effort between his company and Google. Novartis, the parent company of Alcon, announced last summer that it had entered into an agreement with Google [x], a team of engineers that works to utilize technology to solve major problems and improve lives.  Some Google [x] projects include a self-driving car that they hope will reduce traffic-related deaths, as well as a rural internet access program powered by balloons.

Google[x] has also turned its attention to the scourge of diabetes, which affects close to 400 million people—and growing—worldwide. Many people with diabetes live with a variety of painful and disruptive daily routines for managing their glucose levels, including wearing glucose monitors embedded beneath their skin or enduring regular finger-pricks in order to take blood tests. As a result of these annoyances, many people check their glucose levels less often than they should, raising their risk of developing dangerous complications associated with uncontrolled blood sugar, including a variety of eye-related issues that could lead to blindness.

As a result, researchers have spent years looking for alternative, less invasive, methods for measuring glucose levels in the body, such as through sweat, saliva, urine or tears. Recently, the Google [x] team developed what they call a “smart contact lens,” which uses a tiny wireless microchip to measure glucose in the wearer’s tears. Their hope is that this technology will eventually be used to help diabetics manage their disease better and in a less-invasive manner. 

This is where Alcon—and Dr. Rappon—come in. The company is working to use its existing experience and expertise in eye care, as well as in clinical development and evaluation and the commercialization of contact and intraocular lenses, to move the smart lens forward and, eventually, bring it to consumers. In addition to its potential use in diabetics, Alcon also hopes to adapt the smart lens technology to potentially help people with presbyopia or cataracts.

Dr. Rappon’s work focuses on the overall project leadership aspect of the smart lens project, but his interest in research stretches back to his years at the College.

“I’ve found throughout my career that the educational foundation that I received at SUNY Optometry—everything from vision science, to optics to ocular disease—has served me well, “Dr. Rappon said. “From when I was working with patients early on in my career to when I moved into research and clinical development later on, what I learned has been a real foundation for me.”

Dr. Rappon is enthusiastic about working on a project that has the potential to help so many people, and could have even broader implications in the future.    

“Working with this technology provides the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge of something that could potentially be paradigm-shifting for health care and that is undoubtedly exciting.”

Dr. Rappon will give a lecture on sponsored research to graduate students at the College on March 18.

December 19, 2014

SUNY Optometry Celebrates its People at 6th Annual Recognition Ceremony

On December 18, the College recognized and celebrated the contributions, service and achievements of its faculty and staff at the Sixth Annual Recognition Awards Ceremony. The event was presided over by Ms. Betsy Torres, chair of SUNY Optometry’s Recognition Committee which selected the award winners. 

The award and recipients are pictured below, clockwise from top left:

Faculty Community Spirit Award: Dr. Teresa Lowe (pictured with Dr. Richard Madonna); Staff Community Spirit Award: Ms. Ana Veras (right, with Ms. Norma Ayala); President's Merit Award for Excellence: Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso (center) and Dr. Qasim Zaidi (right) Unsung Hero Award: Mr. Michael Gaddist (right with Mr. Dapo Adurogbola and President Heath)

In addition, 37 faculty and staff members of the College were honored for their length of service:

40 years
Dr. Jordan Pola
Dr. Harold Sedgwick

25 years
Ms.Debra Berger
Dr. Ralph Gundel
Dr. Steven Larson

20+ years
Dr. Julia Appel
Mr. Aubrey Assim
Ms. Anita Barrington-King
Dr. Ann Beaton
Dr. Harriette Canellos
Mr. Igor Demburg
Dr. Christine Dumestre
Dr. Veronique Germaine
Ms. Joan Harris
Ms. Dalphanie Heyward
Dr. Evan Kaplan
Dr. Neera Kapoor 
Ms. Nancy Kirsch
Dr. Ira Krumholtz
Mr. Boris Levin
Dr. Teresa Lowe
Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez
Mr. Edward McKenzie
Dr. Patricia Modica
Dr. Willam O'Connell
Dr. Gary Oliver
Ms. Clementine Perez
Mr. Robert Ramos
Dr. Peter Reinach
Mr. John Rivera
Dr. Mark Rosenfield
Mr. Quintin Sawyer
Dr. Susan Schuettenberg
Dr. Arlene Schwartz
Ms. Monica Swaby
Mr. Howard Trice
Mr. Orrin Woods

View a slideshow of images from the event below:

December 17, 2014

Video: Dr. Daniel Laby on the New Sports and Performance Vision Center

On June 1, the Sports and Performance Vision Center will open as a new unit within the University Eye Center’s Rehabilitation Service. (Read more about the Sports and Performance Vision Center here.) Its founding director is Dr. Daniel M. Laby, a board-certified ophthalmologist who comes to the College with extensive experience and as one of the leaders in the emerging field of sports vision.

Watch Dr. Laby talk about his background and the launch of the Sports and Performance Vision Center:

December 12, 2014

2014: Year in Review

November 30, 2014

Long-Standing Program Welcomes New Zealand Optometrists to University Eye Center

For nearly two decades, SUNY Optometry has engaged in a unique global collaboration that has helped to serve the burgeoning optometric community of New Zealand while also providing an enriching experience for the students and faculty at the College.

Since 1998, SUNY Optometry has hosted two optometrists from New Zealand—one experienced practitioner and one new graduate—for four weeks each summer as part of a program conducted between the College’s Department of Continuing Education and the Snowvision Charitable Trust, an organization in New Zealand dedicated to improving the clinical skills and knowledge of optometrists in the country.

Dr. Richard Madonna (pictured, with three of the students, in New Zealand), SUNY Optometry’s chair of the Department of Clinical Education and director of the Office of Continuing Professional Education, has been involved with the program since he came back to his alma mater fulltime in 1999. Since its inception, nearly three dozen New Zealander optometrists have taken part in the program where they have the opportunity to closely observe patient care activities at the University Eye Center.

“The Snowvision scholarship recipients have generally been excellent practitioners,” Dr. Madonna said. “This ongoing relationship has assisted them in building their own clinical skills but it has also been very beneficial for us to get their perspective as well.”

With the scope of practice continuing to grow in New Zealand—optometrists there recently obtained prescribing rights to treat glaucoma patients—many of the scholarship recipients have had a keen interest in learning more about ocular disease. Others have focused on rehabilitation, specialty contact lens care or others areas of specialty in the UEC.

The Snowvision Trust also conducts a bi-annual conference in Auckland where, in 2014, Dr. Madonna appeared as keynote speaker at the event.

“The exchange of knowledge and the collaboration that has taken place as part of this program has been extremely positive and fruitful,” Dr. Madonna said. “I’m very grateful to have been involved with it for so many years and I look forward to our continued partnership in the years to come.

November 3, 2014

Unique Clinical Care Unit to be Developed at the University Eye Center

Last summer SUNY Optometry signed an agreement with Marco Ophthalmic, a leading manufacturer of diagnostic equipment, designed to assist the College in its ongoing efforts to develop and integrate new technologies into both the educational and patient care components of its mission. Marco, along with its affiliated philanthropic arm, the Seymour R. Marco Family Foundation, has agreed to provide SUNY Optometry, through its own foundation the Optometric Center of New York, with cash and in-kind gifts worth a total of $100,000 over a five-year period. This support, in part, will enable the College to move ahead with the development of a unique clinical care unit that will be known as the “Practice of Today.”

Composed of four examination rooms as well as a pre-testing facility to be housed within the University Eye Center’s primary care service, the unit will be managed by Dr. Thomas Wong. The staffing will include four, fourth-year OD student externs and, potentially, additional first- and second-year OD students in ancillary roles. The unit, by its own design, will be subjected to a variety of experimental structures in both the use of new technology as well as the staffing patterns it deploys. One of the primary goals of the unit is to prepare current students for the inevitable technological changes and workflow shifts within clinical care settings that they will face as they enter practice settings.

“We see this as the University Eye Center’s beta testing site for both technology and for alternative approaches to our clinical care and educational programs,” President Heath said. The goal will be to determine the best practices that could likely modify how the College conducts its pre-clinical training as well as how its clinical services are managed in the UEC.

“Two very critical elements of our current strategic plan are to develop the highest quality practitioners by providing the most progressive and adaptive education possible and to deliver effective, innovative care to our patients,” President Heath said. “This new unit will help us take important steps toward achieving those goals.”

November 1, 2014

SUNY Optometry Researchers Receive Four SUNY Brain Network of Excellence Grants

Research projects focusing on brain and eye disorders conducted by faculty and students at the College received a total of nearly $380,000 in funding as part of the initial round of awards provided by the new SUNY Brain Network of Excellence. Dr. Jose Manuel Alonso, Dr. Stewart Bloomfield, Dr. Robert McPeek, Dr. Qasim Zaidi and Dr. David Troilo, as well as several students at the College, are currently working on four of the eight neuroscience projects that received the first round of funding through this newly established SUNY Research Foundation program.

“On SUNY campuses across the state, our students and faculty are making major medical breakthroughs, discovering with each new venture a more effective way to understand, diagnose or treat diseases that affect brain and eye function in people of all ages,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said in an announcement about the awards.

The SUNY Brain Network of Excellence, one of five networks throughout the SUNY system, was created to maximize interdisciplinary and collaborative neuroscience research across the SUNY campuses and facilitate partnerships with academia, industry and community.

December 3, 2014

College Introduces Unique Residency/Graduate Program

In an effort to assist the growing number of students interested in achieving excellence as both clinicians and researchers, SUNY Optometry has developed a highly unique new residency/graduate program that combines clinical activities along with graduate research studies. The program concentrates on one of four different areas of specialization: primary care and pediatrics, cornea and contact lenses, vision therapy/rehabilitation/traumatic brain injury or ocular disease. The focus areas of the residency are designed to complement the research interests that are developed through the resident/graduate student’s degree work.

The program takes place over a two-year period while the participant is pursuing either an MS or PhD degree. The participants in this innovative program are expected to devote half their time to residency and clinical activates and the other half to graduate studies and research during that time. Clinical fellowships are available for PhD students following the successful completion of the program.

“We developed this distinctive program to expand and apply clinical research at the College and throughout the profession,” said Dr. David Troilo, SUNY Optometry's vice president and dean for Academic Affairs. “We’re also meeting a growing desire that many of our students have to engage in translational and clinical research while developing expertise in clinical sub-specialties.”

Dr. Troilo also explained that the program will help to emphasize and achieve two of the College’s core missions: patient care and research, while also shaping the future of optometric patient care.

To find out more about this program click here

October 16, 2014

Scholarly Activities for November 2014

American Academy of Optometry 2014

Presentations by faculty:

Kathleen Abarr

  • Poster: Temporal Sequence of Fundus Changes from Physiological to Pathological Myopia: A Pilot Study

Diana Adamczyk

  • Presenter: Public Speaking Workshop

Ben Backus

  • Presenter: Dichoptic Varied-Contrast Stereopsis Training Improves Disparity Thresholds and Visual Acuity in Adult Amblyopes
  • Presenter: The Measurement of Suppression in the Visual Field of Amblyopes

Sherry Bass

  • CEE Lecturer: Genetics in Posterior Segment Disease
  • Presenter: Hi-Tech Workshop in the Detection and Management of Glaucoma and Retinal Disease
  • Poster: Genotype-Phenotype Correlation in Stargardt Disease

Alexandra Benavente-Perez

  • Poster: Temporal Sequence of Fundus Changes from Physiological to Pathological Myopia: A Pilot Study

Mitchell Dul

  • Moderator: Hot Topics in Discovery: Tools for Improving Glaucoma
  • Poster: Increasing Hypertension Awareness: The Optometric Setting as a Novel Location for Screening

Nabin Raj Joshi

  • Poster: Variability in Pupil Dynamics to Blue Test Flashes

Cristina Llerena-Law

  • Fellowship: Mike Daley – Essilor Ezell
  • Presenter: Dichoptic Varied-Contrast Stereopsis Training Improves Disparity Thresholds and Visual Acuity in Adult Amblyopes
  • Moderator: Papers: Binocular Vision

Pat Modica

  • CEE Lecturer:  The Many Faces of Multiple Sclerosis

William O’Connell

  • Presenter: Low Vision Technology Update 2014: Mobile Devices, Apps and More

Stephen Pereira

  • Poster: Effect of Supplementary Lenses on Logmar Visual Acuity

Joan Portello

  • Poster: Effect of Supplementary Lenses on Logmar Visual Acuity

Jerry Rapp

  • CEE Lecturer: Genetics in Posterior Segment Disease

Kathryn Richdale

  • Presenter: Contact Lens Treatments for Myopia Control: Emerging Evidence Based Practices
  • Presenter: Contact Lens Assessment in Youth: Multi-Center Testing of a Risk Assessment Survey for Soft Contact Lens Wearers with Adverse Events
  • Presenter: Contact Lens Assessment in Youth (Clay): Case-Control Pilot Study of Patients with Symptomatic Corneal Inflammatory Events

Mark Rosenfield

  • Presenter: Today’s Visual Demands: Yesterday’s Eye Exam
  • Poster: Effect of Supplementary Lenses on Logmar Visual Acuity

Jerome Sherman

  • Recipient:  plaque from the Armed Forces Optometric Society for research on fundus autofluorescence
  • CEE Lecturer: Genetics in Posterior Segment Disease
  • Presenter: Hi-Tech Workshop in the Detection and Management of Glaucoma and Retinal Disease

Mort Soroka

  • Poster: Increasing Hypertension Awareness: The Optometric Setting as a Novel Location for Screening
  • Poster: Ophthalmology Workforce Study

David Troilo

  • Presenter: Contact Lens Treatments for Myopia Control: Emerging Evidence Based Practices

Suresh Viswanathan

  • Poster: Variability in Pupil Dynamics to Blue Test Flashes
  • Academy Information Poster: Vision Science Section Diplomate Program

The following residents presented posters at the Academy:

Corinne Blum
Caitlin Eleftherion
Sheree Fetkin
Ali Freese
Jennifer Lim
Tyler Phan
Nicole Sangani

The following residents received travel fellowships to travel to the Academy:

Konstantin Fishilevich
John GIalousakis

Former president honored at the Academy:

SUNY Optometry's Founding President, Dr. Alden N. Haffner, received the inaugural Henry B. Peters Memorial Award at the Academy in Denver this month. The award is given to an individual who has made exemplary contributions to public health and/or environmental vision over a period of many years. Dr. Haffner (pictured with President Heath) also attended the College’s alumni reception during the Academy.



Other Recent Scholarly Activities

Cai LT, Huang I, Backus BT, (2014). Monocular cuing does not modify interocular balance for dichoptic global motion perception. Journal of Vision, 14 (10), article 960. doi: 10.1167/14.10.960

Mergler S, Valtink M, Takayoshi S, Okada Y, Miyajima M, Saika S, Reinach PS. (2014). Temperature-Sensitive Transient Receptor Potential Channels in Corneal Tissue Layers and Cells.  Ophthalmic Res. 2014 Oct 8;52(3):151-159. [Epub ahead of print]

November 14, 2014

Envision New York 2014: In Pictures

The College's 13th Annual Envision New York focused on interprofessional practice and offered over 45 hours of continuing education credit. Here's a look back at the weekend's events.

November 14, 2014

Helping Students Network with Doctors

For the second straight year, the College’s Career Development Center held a networking event designed to help students connect with their future colleagues and build their personal networks within the optometric community. The “2nd Annual Networking with the Doctors Social” was co-hosted with the New York State Optometric Society, the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians and SUNY Optometry’s Student Optometric Association for Private Practice and brought more than a dozen doctors from a variety of specialties from around the region. Allergan helped to sponsor the event which gave students the opportunity to speak directly with each doctor and learn more about each of their experiences.

“The Career Development Center has taken the philosophy that creating the space for students to connect with doctors in the best approach to help enrich and shape their careers,” Mr. Francisco Lucia, director of career development and minority enrichment at SUNY Optometry said. “This event provides an opportunity for our students to begin making those critical connections now.”

November 15, 2014

Video: Family of Mentors Program

Last year the Career Development Center launched a unique mentoring initiative called the Family of Mentors Program. It seeks to capitalize on the vast knowledge of SUNY's network of alumni, professionals and partners and connect them, in an innovative way, with members of SUNY Optometry's student body.

Watch and learn how this one-of-a-kind program works and how it is helping our students and residents achieve success:

For more information about the Family of Mentors program click here

November 7, 2014

Faculty Members Shine at COVD Annual Meeting

SUNY Optometry faculty members, Dr. Rochelle Mozlin and Dr. Andrea Thau, as well as distinguished service professor emeritus, Dr. Irwin Suchoff, received awards for their contributions to developmental optometry during the 44th Annual Meeting of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) last month in San Diego.

The A.M. Skeffington Award, which is given for outstanding contributions to the optometric literature in the areas of behavioral vision care and vision therapy, was awarded to Dr. Mozlin. The Distinguished Service Award for presented to Dr. Andrea Thau for her contributions to COVD and optometry. And the President's Award was awarded to Dr. Suchoff for “his work promoting developmental optometry, his leadership in the substantial improvements to the fellowship and therapist certification processes, and his decades of exceptional service and contributions to COVD,” according to a statement by COVD.

The awards are given annually at the COVD Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon. Nominations for the awards are reviewed by selection committees compiled of past award recipients, COVD members and members of the Board of Directors.

Three additional awards were presented at the meeting as well. The COVD is an international, nonprofit optometric membership organization that provides education, evaluation and board certification programs in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy and visual rehabilitation. The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, vision therapists and other vision specialists.

“We should be very proud of our functional/behavioral optometric faculty here at SUNY Optometry,” said Dr. Neera Kapoor, associate clinical professor at the College and chief of vision rehabilitation services at the University Eye Center. “Congratulations to each of the recipients.” 

October 29, 2014

Alumni Reunion Reception

On October 25, the College's Alumni Affairs office, in conjunction with its Continuing Professional Education office, hosted an alumni reunion reception at the Princeton Club in New York City. Dr. David Damari, a member of the Class of 1988, was honored as the 2014 Alumnus of the Year. Here are some of the photos from the evening's event

October 23, 2014

College Recognizes Scholars and Dedicates Classroom

SUNY Optometry handed out 26 scholarships, a total of $66,750 in student support, at an event on October 22 that also included the dedication of one of the College’s newly renovated classrooms in honor of Class of 1983 alumnus, Dr. Mark Feder.

The event took place in what is now known as “Feder Hall,” a classroom on the first floor of the College’s building that received a complete gut renovation over the summer and is now a comfortable, innovative new learning environment for students. Dr. Feder’s wife Sherrie and daughter Danielle, a member of the College’s Class of 2017, were also in attendance at the event. In his remarks to the gathering of students, faculty, staff, supporters and trustees of SUNY Optometry’s foundation, the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), Dr. Feder emphasized his desire to help the next generation of optometrists and their need to provide “compassionate health care” to their patients over the course of their careers.

Left: Dr. Feder (left) with his wife Sherrie and President Heath; Right: Dr. Folsom with scholarship receipient Ellen McCrary

Three new scholarships were awarded this year, including the Dr. Mark S. Feder Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Primary Care, the Fred Friedfeld Memorial Scholarship, which is given in honor of ClearVision Optical’s founder, Mr. Friedfeld, who passed away earlier this year and the P. Gregory Hess Scholarship which was created by Mr. Hess, a member of the OCNY’s advisory Trust and Estates Committee. Long-time supporter of SUNY Optometry and OCNY trustee, Dr. William Folsom, was also in attendance to award three students with the Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarship which is named for Dr. Folsom’s late son. In his own remarks, Dr. Folsom said that he has spent more than 70 years in optometry, having graduated from the now-defunct optometry program at Columbia University in 1943.

Below is a complete listing of the scholarships that were awarded and their recipients:

Dr. Mark S. Feder Scholarship for Clinical Excellence in Primary Care  
(Presented by: Dr. Mark S. Feder ‘83)
Sarah Zuckerman - Class of 2015

Fred Friedfeld Memorial Scholarship 
(Presented by: Mr. Peter Friedfeld) 
Karen Levy - Class of 2017

P. Gregory Hess Scholarship 
(Presented by: P. Gregory Hess)
Kelsey Butler - Class of 2017

Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. William Folsom, OCNY Trustee, Columbia ‘43)
Ellen McCrary - Class of 2016
auren Thompson - Class of 2016
Brittney Gewolb - Class of 2016             

NYSOA Dr. Alden Haffner Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. Joseph Stamm ‘82, Chief of Advanced Care)
Christie Mackenzie - Class of 2016 
Matthew Roe - Class of 2016 

NJOA Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. Kristen Fry ‘98, Immediate Past President, NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry) 
Aqeela Naqvi - Class of 2018      

Dr. Nathan and Laura Millman Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. Ronald Millman, Ms. Barbara Dean) 
Lauren Rabon - Class of 2017
Michael Mendsen - Class of 2017 
Mary Botelho - Class of 2017 
Celia Gong - Class of 2017 

Dr. Jerome Weiss Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. Richard Soden ‘79, Vice President for Clinical Affairs)
Sarah Zuckerman - Class of 2015

Jeff White Memorial Scholarship 
(Presented by: Mr. Larry Roth) 
Christine Corrente - Class of 2015 

Dr. Harold Solan Scholarship 
(Presented by: Mr. Larry Solan) 
Lauren Strawn - Class of 2015

Harold M. Spielman Scholarship 
(Presented by: Mr. Harold Spielman, OCNY Trustee) 
Harrison Feng - Class of 2018

Barbara Saltzman Scholarship 
(Presented by: Ms. Barbara Saltzman, OCNY Trustee) 
Jenna Salner - Class of 2016 

Dennis and Lesley Gehr Scholarship 
(Presented by: Lesley and Dennis Gehr, OCNY Trustee) 
Christine Auguste - Class of 2018

Dr. Sanford and Claire Levy Scholarship 
(Presented by: Dr. David Troilo, Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs) 
Chelsea Ashlaw - Class of 2015
Tea Avdic - Class of 2016
Christine Morra - Class of 2016
Bryan O’Neil - Class of 2018

Alumni Scholarships 
(Presented by: Dr. Denise Whittam ’91 President, Alumni Association) 
Syed Hasan - Class of 2018
Jeffrey Enos - Class of 2018 
Jenna Salner - Class of 2016

October 22, 2014

First Floor Classroom Rehabilitation

October 17, 2014

CVRC Studies Could Have Major Impact on Pediatric Vision

SUNY Optometry’s Clinical Vision Research Center is currently conducting two important pediatric studies that could have broad implications, not only on eye and vision health, but on the quality of life of a major segment of the population as well.

InFocus, a study designed to determine if certain optical treatments, including soft contact lenses and eyeglasses, are able to slow the progression of myopia (or nearsightedness) in children, began in the Clinical Vision Research Center (CVRC) recently. Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Vistakon, the CVRC is just one of only three sites in the United States—and seven worldwide—to work on this potentially groundbreaking study.

“We’re very honored and excited to be one of only a handful of sites conducting this study,” Dr. Kathryn Richdale, the director of the CVRC said. “Given that the prevalence of myopia is over 40 percent in the US and up to 80 percent in some Asian countries, InFocus has the potential to have an enormous impact.” In addition to causing the need for glasses and/or contact lenses, myopia also carries with it an increased risk for glaucoma, retinal detachment and other vision-threatening problems. As a result, controlling it could have consequences well beyond nearsightedness. There is currently no FDA-approved treatment to control the progression of myopia, but previous studies have demonstrated that new optical designs may have the ability to significantly slow myopia progression. The InFocus study is enrolling nearsighted children, between the ages of seven and 11 years.

In addition, the CVRC also just launched another study looking at convergence insufficiency (CI) in children. CI can cause eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches and lead to an avoidance of reading. The study, which is known as the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial- Attention & Reading Trial (CITT-ART), is looking to establish if vision therapy can improve reading and attention in children with CI.

“While CI affects a relatively small percentage of children, it can have major implications on their ability to focus and learn which, of course, can have huge consequences down the road for those who suffer from it,” Dr. Richdale said. “If we’re able to improve a child’s ability to focus and read, we can have a major impact on his or her life going forward.”

The CITT-ART study is funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health and the CVRC is one of only eight research sites across the nation involved with it. The study is enrolling children between the ages of nine and 13 years old with symptomatic CI.

The CVRC, which has been in operation at the College since early 2013, has steadily increased its collaboration with industry and government partners over the past year, conducting a variety of clinical studies on the development of new drugs, devices and therapies.

“One of our missions at the College is to provide the most advanced treatment options for our current patients and to lead the study of new and better treatments for future generations of patients,” Dr. Richdale said. “These two studies truly have the potential to do just that.” 

October 15, 2014

College Hosts International Symposium

In September, SUNY Optometry hosted the 21st International Visual Field and Imaging Symposium meeting of the prestigious Imaging and Perimetric Society (IPS). The organization works to promote the study of normal and abnormal eye structure and visual function, and to ensure and facilitate the cooperation and friendship of scientists throughout the world who are working on and interested in this discipline. It consists of approximately 160 members from around the world, including SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Mitchell Dul, who currently serves on the board of directors of IPS and was instrumental in hosting the meeting at the College.  “We have a long history of contributing to the scientific body of knowledge associated with imaging and perimetry”, Dr. Dul said. “So when North America was slated for our next meeting, SUNY Optometry was a logical choice."  

The conference, which took place at the College from September 9 -12, included a series of posters and scientific discussions as well as keynote speakers. Guess speakers included SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Qasim Zaidi, Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso and Dr. Suresh Viswanathan.

SUNY Optometry’s Office of Continuing Professional Education assisted in organizing the event which also included opportunities for the global members of IPS to socialize and experience New York City.  Future meetings of IPS will occur in Italy in 2016, and Japan in 2018.  

October 15, 2014

Renowned Sports Vision Expert to Establish Sports and Performance Vision Center at UEC

SUNY Optometry will soon welcome Dr. Daniel M. Laby to establish and direct its new SUNY Sports and Performance Vision Center.

Dr. Laby is a board-certified ophthalmologist and comes to the College with extensive experience and as one of the leaders in the emerging field of sports vision. Dr. Laby’s work in sports vision began more than two decades ago when he started working with the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball, a relationship which continued for 18 seasons. Dr. Laby has also been responsible for the visual performance of the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, and he currently works with the Boston Red Sox (which he has done for the past decade), as well as the Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs. Dr. Laby has also spent the last three seasons working with the National Basketball Association’s Boston Celtics as well as the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings. Dr. Laby also worked with the US Olympic team prior to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and attended the games with the team. As a pioneer in the field, Dr. Laby, along with his colleague Dr. David Kirschen, have developed a revolutionary test of visual performance that is used by many professional and collegiate teams to measure their players’ sports vision abilities. The US Patent office has awarded Dr. Laby two patents for this vision testing system.

Dr. Laby is a graduate of the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California Los Angeles. He is currently an assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, and is a member of the clinical faculty at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary as well as the New England College of Optometry. Dr. Laby has published widely in the field and is a sought after speaker at meetings ranging from Hong Kong to the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

The Sports and Performance Vision Center (SPVC) is scheduled to open on June 1, 2015. During the months leading up to that date, Dr. Laby will work on developing the SPVC within the Rehabilitation Service of the University Eye Center. Starting in June, Dr. Laby will also hold an appointment as an adjunct associate clinical professor. Dr. Laby notes, “I am very excited and appreciative of the opportunity to develop the Sports Vision Clinic at the SUNY College of Optometry. New York is the center of the sporting world and the College is at the center of optometric care. This is a perfect storm that will undoubtedly lead to success.”

Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for Academic Affairs at SUNY Optometry, said that the College is “very happy to be welcoming such an accomplished clinician and academic as Dr. Laby into our community. Sports vision is a burgeoning area in eye care and we’re very pleased to have him here to build what we expect will be an important element of our educational and clinical activities.”

Sports vision involves developing and implementing evaluation and training techniques that are specifically designed to improve the visual abilities of an athlete. Sports vision specialists often look to improve skills such as eye-hand coordination, dynamic visual acuity, peripheral awareness, focusing and visual reaction time in addition to the basic visual functions of visual acuity and contrast sensitivity as well as binocular vision. The field has grown exponentially in recent years, with many professional sports teams now regularly employing sports vision specialists as part of their training and medical staffs.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Dr. Laby and look forward to the work that he’ll be doing in our new Sports and Performance Vision Center,” said Dr. Neera Kapoor, the University Eye Center’s chief of Vision Rehabilitation Services. “People are becoming increasingly savvy and aware of the vast range of specialized visual skills required for improving function and success at their respective occupation, sport, or hobby. Vision is so much more than just ‘sight’ and sports and performance vision is one of the ways in which this point is being effectively illustrated.”

October 15, 2014

College Expands Reach into Broader Health Care Community with Newly Developed Role

President Heath announced the creation of a new position for the College specifically designed to focus on expanding the institution’s relationships within the broader health care community.

With the director of health care development, as the new position will be known, SUNY Optometry is taking a proactive approach toward integrating its patient care facilities, including the University Eye Center, and its students, more fully into the greater health care systems of New York City, New York State and beyond. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act represented an ideal moment to develop this new role focused specifically on building and nurturing key relationships for the institution.

“As we all know, our health care system is in the midst of very rapid change,” President Heath said in a statement announcing the new position. “And we felt that having somebody working to create partnerships with hospitals and other health care organizations that reflect the full integration of optometry into the health care system was imperative at this moment.” 

In addition to building clinical relationships and increasing access to eye and vision care to more people in its community, SUNY Optometry is also looking to develop relationships with organizations that will provide such things as interprofessional opportunities for its students or additional support for its robust research programs. 

Dr. Richard Soden (pictured) will take on this new role as of July 1, 2015. Dr. Soden currently serves as executive director of the UEC and vice president for clinical affairs at the College. He joined SUNY Optometry in 1980 after completing a residency program in rehabilitative optometry at the Northport VA Medical Center. In addition to his work at the College, Dr. Soden continued at the Northport VA as the associate chief of optometry. He was also a partner in a private practice on Long Island. His special interests include primary care, low vision rehabilitation, visual therapy and head trauma rehabilitation. In 2005, he returned to SUNY initially as the associate director of managed care and vice president for clinical affairs. He is a past president of the New York State Optometric Association and regularly lectures nationally and internationally on a variety of issues.

“Dr. Soden is nationally recognized for his expertise on our evolving health care system, and I believe that our organization will benefit immensely with him serving as our director of health care development,” President Heath said.

The College is currently conducting a national search for a new executive director of the University Eye Center

October 14, 2014

Scholarly Activities for October 2014

17th Afro-Asian Congress of Ophthalmology/19th Congress of Chinese Ophthalmological Society

Several members of the SUNY College of Optometry community, including President David A. Heath, Dr. Richard Soden, Dr. Helen Duan and Dr. William O'Connell gave lectures as part of the 17th Afro-Asian Congress of Ophthalmology and the 19th Congress of Chinese Ophthalmological Society meeting which took place in Xi'an, China in September. Dr. Heath lectured about health care reform and the current trends in eye care delivery in the United States. Dr. Soden lectured on the economic and social burden of vision loss. Dr. Duan lectured on the analytical evaluation of Orthokeratology treatment outcomes as well as Ortho-K lenses in myopic control and Presbyopic treatment in the United States. Dr. O'Connell lectured on low vision.


Benavente-Perez A, Nour A, Troilo D. Axial Eye Growth and Refractive Error Development Can Be Modified by Exposing the Peripheral Retina to Relative Myopic or Hyperopic Defocus. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Sep 4. pii: IOVS-14-14524. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14524. [Epub ahead of print]

Khajavi N, Reinach PS, Skrzypski M, Lude A, Mergler. (2014) S.L-Carnitine Reduces in Human Conjunctival Epithelial Cells Hypertonic-Induced Shrinkage through Interacting with TRPV1 Channels.Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014;34(3):790-803. doi: 10.1159/000363043. Epub 2014 Aug 19. PMID: 25170901 [PubMed - in process]

Levit NA, Sellitto C, Wang HZ, Li L, Srinivas 2, Brink PR, White TW. Aberrant Connexin26 Hemichannels Underlying Keratitis-Ichthyosis-Deafness Syndrome are Potently Inhibited by Mefloquine.  Invest Dermatol. 2014 Sep 17. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.408. [Epub ahead of print]

Okada Y, Shirai K, Reinach PS, Kitano-Izutani A, Miyajima M, Flanders KC, Jester JV, Tominaga M, Saika S (2014) .TRPA1 is required for TGF-β signaling and its loss blocks inflammatory fibrosis in mouse corneal stroma. Lab Invest. 2014 Sep;94(9):1030-41. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2014.85. Epub 2014 Jul 28.PMID: 25068659 [PubMed - in process]

Other News

Dr. Ken Ciuffreda and Ms. Diana Ludlam  have been invited to be part of the review board for the upcoming, new COVD journal entitled, "Vision Development and Rehabilitation", with Dr. Len Press as Editor.  Both Dr. Ciuffreda and Ms. Ludlam have been involved in the areas of general vision and its anomalies, as well as normal and abnormal vision development and ocular deficits and rehabilitation for several decades. Over the last decade, they have worked with the military and the VA in developing diagnostic and therapeutic protocols for their patients with traumatic brain injury.

In the News

Dr. Andrea Thau appeared in the Wall Street Journal article "Does Your Toddler Need Glasses?" (9/24)
Dr. Benjamin Backus appeared the Popular Science article "Can We Hack Our Vision To See Infrared With The Naked Eye?" (9/9)
Dr. Joan Portello appeared in the Time article "You Asked: Can Computers Really Ruin My Eyes" (9/3)

October 10, 2014

SUNY Optometry Steps Up for World Sight Day

For the second year in a row the SUNY College of Optometry community came together to recognize World Sight Day, an increasingly significant day organized by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness that is designed to draw attention to the scourge of avoidable blindness across the world.

The events, which took place on October 9, were organized by the Student Chapter of the American Public Health Association (SAPHA). The group organized an information table in the busy lobby of the College’s Midtown Manhattan building so that students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors and patients of the University Eye Center, could learn more about the enormous impact that avoidable blindness has on people across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, about 80 percent of the 285 million people who are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide have either a preventable or treatable condition.  

Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to purchase and wear World Sight Day t-shirts to help raise awareness and money for Optometry Giving Sight’s World Sight Day Challenge, the largest annual global fundraising campaign to address avoidable blindness. Third year OD student, Jenna Blechman, the vice president of SUNY Optometry’s SAPHA, announced that the community had raised over $1,400 for the campaign.

In the evening, Dr. Jordan Kasslow, an optometrist and founder of VisionSpring, a social enterprise specifically developed to ensure affordable access to eyewear around the world, spoke to the community about his personal experiences since graduating from the New England College of Optometry and what led him to eventually create VisionSpring.

The World Sight Day events were partially sponsored by the American Optometric Student Association and the Optometric Center of New York, as well as TOMS, a shoe and eyewear company and innovator in the “one-for-one” business model.  

This year, World Sight Day is closely aligned with the World Health Organization’s five-year “Global Action Plan” which focuses heavily on ensuring that all people around the world have access to quality eye health services. 

October 8, 2014

Confucius Institute Celebrates Anniversary

On Saturday, September 27, the SUNY College of Optometry’s Confucius Institute for Health Care celebrated the 10th anniversary of Confucius Institutes around the world with a series of city-wide events in conjunction with four other New York City-based Confucius Institutes. The events included art exhibits, language and dance classes, as well as a vision screening, a seminar on traditional Chinese medicine and much more.

Fellow SUNY institution, the Confucius Institute for Business, along with the institutes at Columbia University, Pace University and the China Institute collaborated to host a series of 15 different events across Manhattan. SUNY Optometry hosted a photo exhibition of Chinese acupuncture in the United States, conducted a free vision screening for the public and produced a seminar on traditional Chinese medicine.

View a slide show of images from the day below. Further details about all of the events of the day can be found by clicking here

October 2, 2014

The Vision and the Promise Campaign Exceeds $10 Million Goal

Over 1,300 donors, including alumni, faculty, staff, foundations, corporations and others answered the call to support The Vision and the Promise: Campaign for SUNY College of Optometry. The campaign officially came to a close after a vote by the Board of Trustees of the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) on October 1. By all measures it was as an unquestionable success, having exceeded its goal and raised $10.15 million.

In September of 2009, the board of the OCNY, the foundation of the SUNY College of Optometry, voted to embark on an ambitious fundraising campaign—the first, formal campaign in the history of the College—to raise $10 million to provide critical support for the growing educational, patient care, research and community outreach needs of SUNY Optometry. 

Here are some of the ways in which The Vision and the Promise has directly benefited the multi-faceted mission of the SUNY College of Optometry and helped to change lives:

“The Vision and the Promise was absolutely essential for providing the means to enable the SUNY College of Optometry to continue to remain a vital, cutting-edge institution,” Mr. Richard Feinbloom, the outgoing president of the OCNY’s Board of Trustees said. “We launched this campaign during a very difficult economic moment and its success is an enormous testament to power of our institutional mission.”

Over the course of The Vision and the Promise campaign, the OCNY raised more support than it had during any other five-year period in its history. The campaign received strong participation from College alumni, including the largest gift ever made by an alumnus. The OCNY Board of Trustees contributed over $3.8 million to the campaign and well over half of the College’s faculty and staff participated as well. In addition, foundation and corporate support for The Vision and the Promise accounted for over $2.3 million.

“We’re very pleased with the breadth of support for the campaign from across our constituencies,” said Ms. Ann Warwick, executive director of the OCNY and the College’s vice president for Institutional Advancement. “In addition to our wonderful board, our alumni as well as our faculty and staff, the ophthalmic industry and a lot of new supporters really demonstrated their belief in what we’re doing here. That is something that is very gratifying.”

With the College still in the early stages of an ambitious new strategic plan that will run through 2018, SUNY Optometry’s president, Dr. David A. Heath, emphasized that the success of The Vision and the Promise campaign should act as a springboard for the future.

“The work that we’re doing here now is only just beginning,” President Heath said. “I’m enormously pleased with the success of The Vision and the Promise, it has been the catalyst for initiatives that will enable us to remain on the forefront of the work that we do and maintain our position as a leader in health care. But there is much more work still to be done and my firm belief is that the success of this campaign will enable even greater success in the future.

“I am also very grateful to our Board of Trustees and to Ms. Warwick for their leadership and excellent stewardship of the campaign,” President Heath continued. “Without their hard work the successful completion of this campaign would not have been possible.”

September 12, 2014

Video: See What Research at the College is All About

The SUNY College of Optometry has internationally recognized faculty and students engaged in cutting-edge basic, translational and clinical research. In fact, research is one of the core missions of the College and a vital component for increasing our knowledge and ultimately improving health care in the future. Dr. Stewart Bloomfield, associate dean for graduate studies and research, describes the research activities at SUNY Optometry, as well as how the MS and PhD programs at the College fit into this mission. 

To find out more visit: www.sunyopt.edu/research 

September 3, 2014

Alumna and Faculty Member Elected American Optometric Association Vice President

Last June, SUNY Optometry alumna and faculty member, Dr. Andrea Thau, was elected vice president of the American Optometric Association (AOA).  Dr. Thau first became involved with the AOA when she was a student at the College during the 1980s. From 1990 to 1997, she served through all of the chairs of the Optometric Society of the City of New York (OSCONY), and became the first female president. She served the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) from 1987 to 2005, including 14 years as a member of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Thau was elected the first female president of the NYSOA and served in that role from 2001-2003. In 2007 Dr. Thau was elected to the American Optometric Association’s Board of Trustees, re-elected in 2010, and then elected Secretary-Treasurer in 2013.

Dr. Thau’s interest in the AOA and NYSOA started at a young age. Her late father, Dr. Edwin C. Thau, served as president of the Bronx County Optometric Society of the NYSOA. She witnessed the transformation of the optometric profession due to the volunteer efforts of AOA members on the local, state and national level. As a student, Dr. Thau lobbied with the NYSOA in Albany the year legislation was passed to enable optometrists in New York to utilize diagnostic pharmaceutical agents.

Dr. Thau is a founding member of the AOA's InfantSEE® committee which was launched in 2005. The program's goal is to ensure that every child embarks on a lifetime of good vision.

Dr. Thau began her career as a full time faculty member at SUNY during her first five years of practice and has continued to be a part-time faculty member since. In 1987, she began her own private practice.

“I love being in private practice and cultivating long term patient-care relationships with my patients,” Dr. Thau said. “Between my father and I, we have cared for five generations of the same family. As OD’s, we protect, preserve, enhance, rehabilitate and maintain our patients’ vision. Participating actively as a volunteer in the American Optometric Association is exciting, invigorating and makes you much more successful!”

September 3, 2014

Dr. David A. Damari - 2014 Alumnus of the Year

In July the SUNY Optometry Alumni Association Board of Directors, in coordination with the entire alumni community, named Dr. David A. Damari, from the Class of 1988, the Alumnus of the Year for 2014. The award will be presented to Dr. Damari on October 25 as part of Alumni Reunion Weekend at Envision New York.

Dr. Damari currently serves as dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University and previously served as professor and chair of the Department of Assessment at Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Since 1995, he has been a national consultant on visual disabilities. Prior to joining SCO, he worked in private practice in New York State.

The Alumnus/a of the Year Award is given annually to a SUNY College of Optometry graduate in recognition of his or her service to the profession, the College, and the community. In 2013, it was awarded to Dr. Jillia Bird.

“Dr. Damari’s leadership and dedication to excellence as dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University will positively impact students for years to come,” Dr. Denise Whittam, president of the Alumni Association said in a letter announcing the award. “As an alumnus of SUNY Optometry, you carry forward a great tradition of education and service and your Alumni Association is pleased to pay tribute to you with this prestigious award.”

For the first time in the history of the award, the selection committee chose three finalists and then opened up a vote to members of the alumni community at-large to make the final choice. 

In addition to presenting the Alumnus of the Year award, Alumni Reunion Weekend will include an alumni reception on Saturday, October 25 honoring the classes of 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009 and a wine and cheese receptionon Sunday, October 26. For more information, click on the image below: 

September 3, 2014

Q&A: Mr. Christian Alberto, Assistant Director of Admissions

Mr. Christian Alberto joined the Office of Student Affairs and International Programs this summer as the assistant director of admissions. We asked him a few questions about his background and what he hopes to accomplish at SUNY Optometry.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to the SUNY College of Optometry?

Prior to accepting my position at SUNY Optometry, I was serving as academic advisor/CSTEP counselor for the Division of Science at the City College of New York (CUNY). CSTEP is a state-wide program that aims to prepare historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students for careers in STEM and Allied Health. Prior to that position, I served as a social media and inclusion intern here in the Office of Student Affairs and International Programs at SUNY. I worked closely with Dr. Gui Albieri, the senior director of admissions and marketing, on the IDEA Initiative which aims to expose and prepare more underrepresented students to the profession and the College through various social media networks. Both of these experiences together brought me back to SUNY. I’ve become quite familiar with the profession of optometry over the years and I favor how dynamic, critical and ever-growing the field is. It is a smart and excellent career to pursue and I’m glad to be in a position where I can assist students actualize this goal during this critical moment their lives. Also, the sense of community here at SUNY is unmatched, which definitely drew me back.

What are you focusing on in admissions and student affairs? Are there any specific initiatives that you’ll be working closely on?

Our latest initiative in admissions is going paperless. I am working diligently on implementing WebAdmit, a new online application processing and management system, in a manner that is efficient and conducive for our department. We have been working with the system for the new 2014-2015 application cycle and so far it has changed what we do in admissions – for the better. I am also focusing heavily on filling our next class with highly qualified, competent and diverse students. In support of this goal, I am gearing up for my first recruitment trip to upstate New York where I will be attending four different graduate/professional school fairs, serve on a graduate admissions panel and hope to meet with CSTEP programs at each school. This will be only the first of many similar trips I expect to make.

You mentioned your experience working with New York State’s CSTEP program as well as historically underrepresented pre-health students. In your view, what are some of the best ways to recruit these underrepresented students into optometry?  

A major factor leading to the underrepresentation of minorities in optometry is the lack of knowledge or exposure to the field. A good number of underrepresented minorities are interested in and have a drive for medicine, which is, generally, much more mainstream than optometry, so I firmly believe our numbers can increase in optometry as we continue to educate these groups and expose them to the field at any early age. Dr. Jeffery Philpott, the vice president for Student Affairs and International Programs, as well as Mr. Francisco Lucio, our director of career development and minority enrichment and Dr. Albieri and I have all been brainstorming ideas on how we can achieve this. It is something that we’re taking very seriously as we plan new initiatives and programs, which makes me all the more excited to be here.

September 3, 2014

New Residency Class Gets to Work

In July, SUNY Optometry welcomed one of its largest residency classes in its four-decade history. A total of 37 residents are participating in 15 programs this year, both in the University Eye Center and in health care facilities across the region. 

Here is a closer look at two of the doctors in the 2014-15 residency class:

Dr. Tyler Phan is the current acquired brain injury & vision rehabilitation primary care resident. This unique residency was the first of its kind and remains one of the top programs in the country. 

Dr. Phan grew up in Orange County, CA and graduated with honors from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry in 2014. He chose to come to New York City and pursue a residency at the College because of its excellent reputation for patient care. Additionally, Dr. Phan has a great interest in the area of neuro-optometry and acquired brain injury rehabilitation. During his time at Western, Dr. Phan learned the critical role that optometrists often play in improving the lives of patients with acquired brain injury through lenses, prisms and vision therapy.

After completing his residency, Dr. Phan would like to join a private practice or work for the US government taking care of veterans who have acquired brain injury and, eventually, get back into academia and teach.

Dr. Corinne Blum, a 2014 graduate of SUNY Optometry, is doing her residency in the primary care program. She graduated with honors and received the Beta Sigma Kappa Award and the Esther J. Werner Memorial Award for academic achievement.

Dr. Blum, from Huntington, Station, NY, chose to do a residency at SUNY Optometry because she wanted to obtain additional, advanced clinical skills and is looking also to gain more experience writing academic papers and present at academic meetings. Dr. Blum chose SUNY in particular because she knew that she would have an excellent support system to help her achieve her professional goals. The primary care residency program was a particular draw for Dr. Blum because she wanted a well-rounded curriculum and a broad clinical experience.

After Dr. Blum completes her residency, she hopes to work in private practice providing full-scope, primary care to patients of all ages.

Here is the complete listing of the entire 2014-15 residency class:



Optometry School/College

Cornea/Contact Lenses (SUNY)

John Gialousakis


East New York Diagnostic & Treatment Center

Matthew Bovenzi


Keller Army Community

Hospital, West Point

Charles Tessman

Michigan College of Optometry

Low Vision Rehabilitation (SUNY/Lighthouse Guild)

Serena Sukhija


Ocular Disease (SUNY)


Gregory Osherov

Yasmine Pilz

Kim Poirier

Jacqueline Westcott





Fromer Eye Centers

Gurjinder Kaur


New York Harbor Health Care VA

Konstantin Fishilevich

Mariya Gurvich

Sarah Lopez

Michelle Mijares





Pediatric Optometry (SUNY)


Colleen Dye

Matthew Vaughn



New Jersey Veterans Health Care System


Nura Salameh

Payal Thakkar

Poonam Varsani




Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center


Irish Dela Rea

Jared Hayashi

Vanessa Hernandez

Janna Lamson





VA Hudson Valley Health Care System


Mark Bampton

David Cartwright

Jacqueline Chang

Jennifer Khem

Western University of Health Sciences


Western University of Health Sciences


Northport DVA Medical Center


Danielle Kalberer

Cheryl Lukose

Chelsie Rus

Mitali Sanghani





Primary Eye Care (SUNY)

Corinne Blum

Ali Freese



Acquired Brain Injury (SUNY)

Tyler Phan

Western University of Health Sciences

Dr. Irwin B. Suchoff Residency Program in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation (SUNY)


Caitlin Eleftherion

Sheree Fetkin

Jennifer Lim

Nicole Sangani



Midwestern University of Arizona



September 2, 2014

Scholarly Activities for September 2014

Cristina Llerena Law, O.D., has received two prestigious awards for her research on visual neuroplasticity in adult amblyopia.  She was awarded an American Optometric Foundation (AOF) William C. Ezell Fellowship for 2014 in the amount of $8,000. 

Additionally, Dr. Law received an award in the amount of $2,500 from the Minnie F. Turner Memorial Fund for Impaired  Vision Research for 2014.   Dr. Law is a doctoral student in the Graduate Program in Vision Science.

Jinyoung Choe (2017) has been awarded a grant from the Minnie F. Turner Memorial Fund for Impaired Vision Research for her study of color adaptation defects in patients with early glaucoma.  The purpose of the fund is to stimulate research related to vision in the academic fields of physics, electrical engineering, psychology, education, medicine and other related disciplines.  Jinyoung Choe is enrolled in both the professional program in Optometry and the Masters of Science program in Vision Science.  She will be working with her graduate mentor, Mitchell W. Dul, MS, OD, FAAO, and collaborators Qasim Zaidi, PhD and Robert McPeek, PhD. 

Bonnie Cooper, a doctoral student, was awarded a Doctoral Fellowship Award to attend the European Conference on Vision Perception.


Akopian A, Atlasz T, Pan F, Wong S, Zhang Y, Völgyi B, Paul DL, Bloomfield SA. (2014) Gap junction-mediated death of retinal neurons is connexin and insult specific: a potential target for neuroprotection. J Neurosci. 2014 Aug 6;34(32):10582-91. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1912-14.2014. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25100592]

Lin Z, Gao T, Vasudevan B, Jhanji V, Ciuffreda KJ, Zhang P, Li L, Mao G, Wang N, Liang YB.  Generational difference of refractive error and risk factors in the Handan Offspring Myopia Study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Aug 5. pii: IOVS-13-13693. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-13693. [Epub ahead of print]

Mergler S, Valtink M, Sumioka M, Okada Y,  Saika S, Reinach PS. (2014) Ocular thermosensitive transient receptor potential channel expression in health and disease.  Ophthalmic Research (in press).

Yadav NK, Ciuffreda KJ. (2014) Effect of Binasal Occlusion (BNO) and Base-In Prisms on the Visual-Evoked Potential (VEP) in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). Brain Injury (In press).

Yadav NK, Ciuffreda KJ. (2014) Effect of Simulated Octant Visual Field Defects on the Visual Evoked Potential (VEP). Journal of Optometry (Available online).

August 14, 2014

Class of 2018 Students Welcomed to the College

The OD program students of the Class of 2018 at SUNY Optometry began their journey toward becoming doctors on August 14 during the first day of a two-day orientation program designed to help them get acquainted with various aspects of the College and the University Eye Center. The 98 students in the class learned about the curriculum that they will be studying over the next four years and strategies for suceeding, as well as about the profession of optometry and much more.

Most of the orientation events took place in one of the College’s newly-renovated, first-floor classrooms as well as in the Center for Student Life and Learning.     

See some of the images from orientation here:

July 16, 2014

Video: A Closer Look at the College’s Clinical Vision Research Center

To find out more visit the CVRC website

June 26, 2014

Scholarly Activities for Summer 2014


Alves M, Reinach PS, Paula JS, Vellasco E Cruz AA2, Bachette L, Faustino J, Aranha FP, Vigorito A, de Souza CA, Rocha EM. (2014) Comparison of diagnostic tests in distinct well-defined conditions related to dry eye disease. PLoS One. 2014 May 21;9(5):e97921. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097921. eCollection 2014.

Bloomfield, SA and Völgyi B (2014) Mind the gap: the functional roles of neuronal gap junctions in the retina. In: The New Visual Neurosciences. J.S. Werner and L.M. Chalupa, eds. MIT Press.

Ciuffreda KJ, Ludlam DP, Thiagarajan P, Yadav NK, Capo-Aponte J. Proposed Objective Visual System Biomarkers for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI): Brief Report. Military Medicine (Accepted).

Sumioka T1, Okada Y, Reinach PS, Shirai K, Miyajima M, Yamanaka O, Saika S.(2014) Impairment of cornea epithelial wound healing in a TRPV1-deficient mouse, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Apr 29. pii: iovs.13-13077v1. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-13077. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24781945

Yadav N.K, Ciuffreda K. J. Effect of simulated octant visual field defects on the visual evoked potential (VEP). Journal of Optometry (In press).

Zheng Q, Ren Y, Reinach PS, She Y, Xiao B, Hua S, Qu J, Chen W.Exp Eye Res.(2014_ Reactive Oxygen Species Activated NLRP3 inflammasomes Prime Environment-induced Murine Dry Eye. 2014 May 13. pii: S0014-4835(14)00122-5. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2014.05.001. [Epub ahead of print]

Invited Talks

Bloomfield SA (2014).  The role of gap junctions in the retina.  Invited talk at Department of Ophthalmology, Downstate Medical Center.

Bloomfield SA (2014). Mind the gap: the roles of gap junctions in retinal physiology and pathology.  Presentation at FASEB Conference on Retinal Circuitry and Visual Processing, Saxtons River, VT.

Reinach P (2014) Invited by Xiamen University, Department of Ophthalmology,  to give a guest lecture on May 24th at the  st Annual Ocular Surface Symposium in Xiamen.The title of his lecture was Differential Roles of Ocular Surface Transient Receptor Potential Channels in Adapting to Environmental  Stress.

Abstracts/Poster/Presentations at Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Meeting, Orlando, FL. , May 2014

Akopian A, Atlasz T, Bloomfield SA. Excitotoxic and Ischemic Conditions Change the Expression of Gap Junction Connexins in the Inner Retina. Invest. Ophthal. Vis. Sci. Supple.

Bass SJ, Sherman J. Molecular Genetics, OCT and Fundus Autofluorescence Patterns in Peripapillary (Pericentral) Pigmentary Retinal Degeneration. Bass SJ, Sherman J. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Meeting, Orlando, FL. , May 2014.

Benavente-Perez A, Nour A, Troilo D (2014). Asymmetries in Peripheral Refraction in Marmosets Change with Emmetropization and Induced Eye Growth. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci Annual Meeting (ARVO). May 2014 Orlando, FL, US.

Bittner AK, DeJong R, Benavente-Perez A (2014). Correlations between Retrobulbar Arterial Velocities and Severity of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci Annual Meeting (ARVO). May. Orlando, FL, US.

Boneta JE, Yannuzzi LA, Nath  S, Bass SJ, Sherman J. Spectrum of Retinal Pigment Epithelium Abnormalities in Central Serous Chorioretinopathy as Revealed by Ultra-Widefield Autofluorescence Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Meeting, Orlando, FL. , May 2014.

Ciuffreda KJ, Yadav NK. Oculomotor Vision Rehabilitation in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Effect on the Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) and Visual Attentional (VAT) Responsivity. ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May 2014

Fimreite V, Yadav NK, Ciuffreda KJ.  Effect of Luminance on the Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) in Visually-Normal and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) Populations. , ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014.

Jiang L, Zhou X, Drobe D, Troilo D. Eye Shapes Measured by MRI are Different in Different Age Groups of Chinese School Children with Similar Refractive States. ARVO Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014

Joshi N, Viswanathan S, Llerena-Law C. Test-retest variability of pupil responses mediated by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells.  Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL, May 2014

Llrena-Law C, Siu M, Modica  P, Backus B,. Stimulus Characteristics Affect the Assessment of Pupil Defects in Amblyopia. Poster, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), May 2014.

Li S, Nguyen TT, Bonanno JA.  Expression Required for Corneal Lactate Efflux. , Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), May 2014.

Pan F, Akopian A, Bloomfield SA. GABA Inhibition Controls the Threshold Sensitivity of Retinal Ganglion Cells Independent of Dopaminergic Circuitry. Invest. Ophthal. Vis. Sci. Supple.

Rajagopalan L, Patel N, Viswanathan S, Harwerth R, Frishman L. Comparison of multifocal photopic negative response (mfPhNR) with structural and functional measures in experimental glaucoma.  Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May 2014

Swanson WH, Dul MW, Horner DG, Malinovsky VE, Evaluating Sources of Test-retest Variability in Glaucomatous Visual Field Defects, ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014

Thiagarajan P, Ciuffreda KJ.  Persistence of oculomotor training effects in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). , ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014.

Truong JQ, Ciuffreda KJ, Han E, Suchoff I. Retrospective Analysis of Photosensitivity in Mild Traumatic Brain-Injury (mTBI).  ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014.

Yadav NK, Ciuffreda KJ.  Effect of Binasal Occlusion and Base-In Prisms on the Visual-Evoked Potential (VEP) in the Visually-Normal and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Populations. , ARVO annual meeting, Orlando, FL, May  2014

Scholars' Dinner

The SUNY College of Optometry held its annual Scholars' Dinner last month to recognize the scholarly activates of both students and faculty at the College over the past academic year. Graduate student Stanley Komban received this year’s annual Dr. Dean Yager Award for the best published research paper by a student. Dr. Yager was a well-known research scientist in areas ranging from color vision in fish to human psychophysics of reading, peripheral vision, low vision and electronic displays. He joined the College in 1974 as dean and founding chairman of the Graduate Program in Vision Science and trained many graduate students who hold academic and clinical positions today. Also acknowledged at the event were Dr. Jens Kremkow who received recognition for the best first-authored research paper by a post-doctoral fellow and Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso who was named a SUNY Distinguished Professor.

June 23, 2014

College Honors Residents with Farewell Ceremony

Dr. Diane Adamczyk (left) with Dr. Kelly Thomann

The SUNY College of Optometry’s 2013-14 residency class bid farewell to the College at a ceremony on June 20. A total of 37 residents in 15 different programs received certificates of advanced clinical competency at the event.

Dr. Diane Adamczyk, SUNY Optometry’s director of residency education, told the outgoing residents during the ceremony that they can expect to use what they’ve learned during their intensive year in the program throughout their careers. Dr. Adamczyk also noted the growth of the program--the 2013-14 residency class was the largest in the College’s four-decade history of residency programs.

During the hour-long ceremony SUNY Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath, said that the College aspires for its residents “to go on and do great things.” Meanwhile, former Alumni Association president, Dr. Julia Appel, welcomed them into the SUNY family of alumni.

This year's Distinguished SUNY Residency Alumni Award, a tradition that was recently developed at the College, was awarded to Dr. Kelly Thomann, a 1989 graduate of the College who completed her residency in 1990. During her address to the gathering Dr. Thomann spoke about the similarities and differences in between when she did her residency twenty-four years ago and today. She also stressed the importance of the relationships that she built both as a result of her residency as well as from being involved in residency education over the years.

The Dr. Martin H. Birnbaum Memorial Award, which is sponsored by the Optometric Center of New York and given to a resident who has shown outstanding knowledge and skill in behavioral optometry, was awarded to Dr. Vincent Cano.


Click on the image below to view and download pictures from the ceremony and the reception that followed

June 11, 2014

College Expands Partnership with Bowery Mission into Harlem

The SUNY College of Optometry’s partnership with The Bowery Mission, one of New York City’s most respected organizations providing services to the city’s homeless and vulnerable, has expanded to East Harlem.

Last year the College signed an agreement to provide those served by The Bowery Mission’s lower Manhattan location with full-service, no-cost, comprehensive eye care. Three days each month, SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Jack Chen, along with interns from the College, visit the site to provide care to a wide range of people. Thanks to broad support solicited by the Optometric Center of New York, the College’s philanthropic foundation, equipment was purchased and provided for the program as well.

The continued support from a range of foundations and individual donors has enabled the College to expand its relationship with The Bowery Mission to include the organization’s new Men’s Center in East Harlem. The center is expected to house up to 60 men in a transitional residential setting and provide services to both the residents and members of the neighborhood in need.

"We are pleased and honored to have the SUNY College of Optometry spearheading the health care services at our new Men’s Center and providing full service eye care to residents,” said Matt Krivich, The Bowery Mission’s director of operations and community relations. “The people served by The Bowery Mission have benefited greatly as SUNY Optometry has provided excellent care at our lower Manhattan location. We are excited to be expanding our existing partnership into East Harlem."

Renovations to the space were recently completed and the Men’s Center in Harlem includes two fully equipped diagnostic examination rooms. All services, including any necessary optical devices such as glasses, are provided to those served free of charge.

The SUNY College of Optometry has been steadily increasing its outreach into the community. It was announced recently that the College will manage the care at two New York City public school vision centers as part of an initiative by the United Federation of Teachers and the global vision care nonprofit OneSight called “ProjectNYSee.” Also, thanks to a recent grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the College will also be hiring a fulltime outreach coordinator to manage and cultivate the institution’s robust efforts within the community.

“Our partnership with The Bowery Mission has been fruitful for us in a variety of ways,” said SUNY Optometry’s President Dr. David A. Heath, “It has provided us with another opportunity to fulfill our mission of providing service to our community and it has also given us the ability to further enhance our students’ clinical experiences while also promoting the value and importance of public health.”

June 2, 2014

A Day of Celebration - Commencement 2014

The SUNY College of Optometry awarded a record 80 students with degrees at the Hudson Theatre in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday as the College celebrated its 40th commencement since its establishment in 1971.

The day began with the annual awards ceremony in the College’s Schwarz Theater where 20 graduating students received a total of 26 academic, service and professional distinction awards. (Click here to see the full list of awards.)

“Our reputation is derived from the quality of our students,” Dr. David A. Heath, president of SUNY Optometry, told those gathered for the ceremony as he recognized the significant achievement of the students. Dr. David Troilo, vice president for academic affairs and dean, noted that the Class of 2014 was well known for its academic and leadership prowess, while vice president for student affairs, Dr. Jeffrey Philpott, who presided over the ceremony, reminded the students that they had come to the College the same year that he had and that they had spent the last four years learning and growing together. This year recipients chose faculty members to present their awards to them during the ceremony which helped to create some heartfelt, witty and even a few emotional moments during the course of the one-hour event.

At the afternoon commencement, three students were awarded the PhD in Vision Science, four students were awarded the MS in Vision Science and 76 students received the Doctor of Optometry degree. It represented the largest graduating class in the College’s history.   

President Heath with Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Nachmias

During the ceremony, SUNY conferred an honorary degree upon Dr. Jacob Nachmias, professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader in developing the modern understanding of spatial vision.

This year the College inaugurated the Presidential Medal, awarding it to Dr. Robert Duckman. The Presidential Medal was created to recognize a retiring, full-time faculty member who has devoted the vast majority of his or her career to the College and whose work has made a significant impact in their field. Dr. Duckman joined the faculty of the College when it opened in 1971.

Class of 2014 president, Mitali Sanghani, spoke to her fellow graduates about the camaraderie that they shared and urged her colleagues to use their new careers for good. “We are in a profession that can change lives,” she said. 

This year’s commencement address was given by Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck, the chief executive officer of the Primary Care Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that works to expand and transform primary health care in underserved communities. Ms. Kotelchuck noted that the graduates would be entering into a health care system that his undergone enormous change recently but also carefully pointed out that they had the opportunity to make an outsized impact within the new system.   

Also during the ceremony, SUNY alumnus Dr. Christopher Colburn, president of the New York State Optometric Association, presented the NYSOA Optometric Educator Award to faculty member Dr. David Krumholz and the NYSOA Optometrist of the Year Award to the president of the College's Alumni Association, Dr. Denise Whittam.

For more information about Dr. Nachmias, Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Duckman click here


Want to see photos? 

  • To view and download photos of commencement click here 
  • ​To view and download photos from the awards ceremony click here

You can also view slideshows of commencement and award ceremony images below:

May 27, 2014

Large Crowd Celebrates Class of 2016 White Coat Ceremony

Well over 200 people gathered in the Schwarz Theater on May 22 to welcome the Class of 2016 into the third year of their professional program. This rite of passage, known as a “white coat ceremony,” has been increasingly celebrated at professional health educational institutions across the nation in recent years. The College began conducting its own white coat ceremony in 2011 and this year saw the largest collection of family, friends and faculty members in attendance to date.


A total of 85 students received pins as part of the hour-long ceremony that included the perspectives of a parent of one of the students—Dr. Sylvia Bernatsky, herself an OD—as well as inspirational words from Mr. Richard Bernstein, a visually impaired lawyer and advocate who has completed 18 marathons and triathlons.    

In his remarks to the gathering, SUNY Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath, noted that the progression of the Class of 2016 into its third year of the Doctor of Optometry program represents a significant watershed in the students' professional lives that marks a shift of focus away from themselves to a greater concern over the well-being and outcome of their patients.

Meanwhile, the rapid evolution of the health care environment was also imparted on the new clinical interns. Dr. Richard Soden, vice president for clinical affairs at the College, noted that the students will be faced with “the greatest changes in health care reform since the introduction of Medicare” nearly fifty years ago. While Dr. Denise Whittam, the past president of the New York State Optometric Association and the current president of SUNY Optometry’s Alumni Association, told the students that they would soon be entering a profession that has progressed markedly in recently years, a sentiment that was also articulated by Dr. Bernatsky during her remarks.

Dr. Bernatsky urged the students to remember that working with patients is a two-way street. “At times you may need to teach your patients,” she said. “But don’t forget to learn from them as well.” Mr. Bernstein, who was introduced by Jenna Salner, the class president, implored the students to remember the impact that they will have on their patients’ lives and thanked them for their “willingness to make people’s lives better.”

After receiving their pins from Dr. Soden and Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for academic affairs at the College, the students recited the optometric oath for students. The gathering then moved to a reception at the College’s Center for Student Life and Learning.

Check out the slideshow below for more images from the event. Individual photos can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here

May 21, 2014

SUNY Alumnus Helping Others Navigate Successful Careers

Dr. Matthew Geller founded OptometryStudents.com as a first year OD student at the SUNY College of Optometry in 2009. Five years later, the 2013 graduate has launched NewGradOptometry.com as a way to assist new doctors as they work to succeed in the ever-dynamic health care environment. Both websites have been highly lauded by the ophthalmic community for providing information and resources that are often unavailable elsewhere.

We asked Dr. Geller, who also currently practices at a private clinic in San Diego, a few questions about his two unique endeavors:

When you began OptometryStudents.com as a SUNY Optometry OD student, you said that that you wanted to create a “positive voice for students in the profession.” Are you now looking to continue this same tradition for newly minted doctors at NewGradOptometry.com (NGO)?

Moving the profession forward will always be the number one goal for any project that I take on. If you don’t have an altruistic, positive and genuine motive behind what you do then you won’t succeed. Optometry comes first at the end of the day and every decision we make gets passed through the filter of “is this bringing value to new graduates?” and “is this helping optometry?”

With OptometryStudents.com the goal was the help optometry students understand the profession they were getting involved in. With NewGradOptometry.com the goal is to give new graduates everything they need to succeed in the real world of optometry. With the proper tools and direction from other new graduates, we are capable of being the next leaders in the profession.

What was your motivation for launching NGO?

We wanted to make life easier for new graduates so that they can be successful, both professionally and personally.

Can you talk about the reception that you received from the optometric community for OptometryStudents.com and how NGO is being received today?

I have formed so many friends in the community thanks to OptometryStudents.com. The community loved this project and we got nearly every industry player involved in some way or another. Everyone got to benefit from OptometryStudents.com. It was truly an altruistic project.

The perception of NGO is exactly the same. Everyone is excited to get new graduates up to speed on the “real world” of optometry. Industry players and the community are eager to utilize NGO to deliver a message that might have taken triple the amount of time previously.

Your team at NGO includes SUNY alumni Dr. Quy Nguyen and Dr. Antonio Chirumbolo. How did your overall experience at SUNY help inform how you view the profession today and the information that you provide at NGO?

Quy and Antonio are great friends and great doctors. They are going to be big names in the future! SUNY was amazing, the best optometry school I could have attended. At SUNY it’s all about the community and the relationships and SUNY taught me how valuable this was. With NGO we are keeping that same “community” vibe alive. SUNY taught me great things. Nine times out of 10 I wondered why I was learning something in the moment but now it all makes sense. They really have valuable knowledge to deliver from an awesome staff.

As a doctor working in private practice, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how are you trying to use your experience to help those who follow you as new doctors?

The biggest challenges are…

  • Getting credentialed on insurance panels
  • Understanding insurance (vision and medical)
  • Getting your schedule busy
  • Prescribing with confidence
  • Being confident but respecting your superiors and staff
  • Getting involved without running yourself too thin

These are all lessons we write about at NGO…and our fans get to learn right alongside us!

What is your overall impression of the optometric profession today and how do you think young ODs coming into optometry today will change it in the future?

Optometry is awesome! I love the profession and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I would advise only those students who have a TRUE PASSION for optometry to join our family. Those who are doing it to just “punch the clock and get a paycheck” are not going to enjoy this profession. Optometry needs motivated individuals like Ryan Corte and Courtney Dryer—two more members of our NGO team—who will take optometry to new heights.

The profession will change BIG TIME. Look at it now – vertical integration of corporations, health care reform, online eye exams, online dispensaries and board certification – these are all things we must embrace and change alongside. Do not fight this stuff; it will not get us anywhere. We need to learn how to be the authority leaders and the go-to doctors. We need to innovate and grow and partner with these ideas.

People always say “optometry is changing” but its not just optometry, it’s the entire global and social order that is changing. These changes are happening thanks to the internet, which allows companies and political organizations to streamline their workflow and their interactions with employees and customers. Every company is cashing in on this and utilizing it to the fullest extent. Consumers now expect a streamlined and easy-to-use interface for all of life’s interactions and if an industry can’t adapt to that, they will fail. Optometry is the tip of the iceberg but underneath it is the real drive for social, economic and political change. Optometry is just along for the ride! You can’t stop the entire iceberg called “life” from changing. You need to jump on board that iceberg and build your own motor and steering wheel so that you can navigate it where you want it to go. Would you stand in front of a million-ton iceberg? I sure wouldn’t…

If you need to find me, I will be in a down jacket and gloves on top of the iceberg! Come join me, it’s a wonderful view!


Visit OptometryStudents.com and NewGradOptometry.com to find out more 

May 12, 2014

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Provides Support for UEC’s Growing Community Outreach Efforts

The University Eye Center will use a two-year, $200,000 grant, recently provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, one of the world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, to the Optometric Center of New York, the College's foundation, to create and staff a fulltime community outreach coordinator. The new coordinator will be responsible for managing and expanding the UEC’s network of ongoing relationships across the New York City community and beyond.

“Enhancing public health through education and service is part of our mission at the College,” said Dr. David A. Heath, SUNY Optometry’s president. “We’re certainly grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for partnering with us in our effort to build on the success that we’ve had in caring for our community.”

The UEC has been steadily expanding its outreach programs in a variety of different ways recently. Last year, the clinic’s doctors and interns made more than 200 visits to individuals in Manhattan and Queens who are unable to leave their homes as part of its decades-long Homebound program. The College also established a partnership with the Bowery Mission last year to provide regular, free vision care to those served by the Mission in lower Manhattan. That program will expand to the Bowery’s East Harlem location this spring. UEC doctors and practitioners also provided more than 1,100 individuals at various educational and community events throughout the city last year with vital, health-related information.  Doctors, interns and staff also regularly examine individuals at free screenings in the UEC and throughout the community designed to detect a variety of ocular and systemic diseases. It was also recently announced that the College will manage the care at two vision centers at public schools in New York City which are being established later this year by the United Federation of Teachers and the global vision care nonprofit OneSight as part of an initiative known as “ProjectNYSee.”

In addition to maintaining the institution’s robust outreach programs, the community outreach coordinator will also focus on developing new and different avenues for providing a broad range of care to underserved members of the community.  

“We’re very excited by the opportunity that having somebody in this position will give to us in our ongoing effort to expand our outreach into the community,” said Dr. Richard Soden, vice president for clinical affairs at the College and executive director of the UEC. “The care that we provide for our neighbors is an important service and I am pleased that this grant will enable us to expand on our already vigorous efforts.” 

May 12, 2014

SUNY Optometry Prepares for its 40th Commencement

On Sunday, June 1, the SUNY College of Optometry will hold its 40th commencement. The day's events will begin with the College's annual awards ceremony for students in the Schwarz Theatre in the morning with commencement at the Hudson Theatre in Midtown Manhattan during the afternoon. A total of 76 students will receive degrees at the ceremony.

Dr. Jacob Nachmias, an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive an honorary degree. Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck, the founding CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation, will address the graduates. SUNY Optometry's Dr. Robert Duckman will receive the inaugural Presidential Medallion in recognition of his service to the College.


Here’s a closer look at Dr. Nachmias, Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Duckman:

Dr. Jacob Nachmias
Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Jacob Nachmias is arguably the scientist most responsible for the experimental work upon which our modern understanding of spatial (or “pattern”) vision is based. Spatial or pattern vision is the first step in visual perception after the eyes send retinal image information to the brain. 

Throughout his career, Dr. Nachmias’s work has been widely recognized for its cleverness of experimental design, careful attention to detail and technical precision. His seminal insights into functional vision have had a profound influence on other leaders in the field, and through his legacy of research, teaching and mentorship, he serves as a powerful role model for students.

Dr. Nachmias has been honored with elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the Edgar D. Tillyer Award from the Optical Society of America. He received his AB degree from Cornell University, his MA from Swarthmore College and his PhD from Harvard University.


Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck
Commencement Speaker

Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck is the founding CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC). Under her leadership, PCDC, a US Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution, has financed more than 100 primary care projects totaling $485 million and modernized more than 925,000 square feet of space. PCDC has also provided performance improvement training and coaching to nearly 900 primary care organizations throughout the United States, helping to transform the delivery and quality of primary care services in low-income communities.

In August 2011, Ms. Kotelchuck was invited to participate as a member of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team Payment Reform Workgroup; a committee selected to develop recommendations to reduce costs and increase quality and efficiency in New York’s Medicaid Program.

Ms. Kotelchuck is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, co-chair of the Hermann Biggs Society, a member of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Advisory Council and a member of the California Health Care Foundation/Center for Health Care Design’s Advisory Committee on Safety Net Clinic Design.

She is a recipient of the Haven Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award, the Paul Ramos Memorial Award, and the Avedis Donabedian Healthcare Quality Award. Ms. Kotelchuck received her BA from Lewis and Clark College, and her MRP from Cornell University.


Dr. Robert Duckman
Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion is a newly created award given for the first time this year. It is designed to recognize a retiring, full-time faculty member who has devoted the vast majority of his or her career to the College and whose work has made a significant impact in their field.

Dr. Robert Duckman became a founding member of the SUNY College of Optometry faculty on August 1, 1971, shortly after receiving his OD degree from the New England College of Optometry. During the ensuing 43 years, Dr. Duckman devoted himself to the College by educating several generations of students and perhaps, most critically, by enhancing and advancing our understanding of pediatric vision. During his tenure at the College Dr. Duckman achieved the rank of professor and served in numerous roles including chair of the Department of Vision Sciences, director of the Children with Special Needs Clinic and chief of the Infant’s Vision Service. He is a recipient of the 2008, Satmar Bikur Cholim, Physician of the Year Award, as well as a 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

He has published widely and served as editor and contributor to the 2006 textbook “Vision Development, Diagnosis and Treatment of the Pediatric Patient.” He has also participated as a member of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) since its inception in 1997. Dr. Duckman is also widely sought out as speaker in both the United States and abroad.

In addition to his OD degree, Dr. Duckman received a BA in Biology-Chemistry from Queens College and an MA in Psychology from the New School for Social Research.

May 8, 2014

Scholarly Activities for May 2014


Jain AJ, Anstis SJ, Backus BT (2014) Cue-recruitment  for Extrinsic Signals After Training  with Low Information Stimuli. PLOS One, in press.

Komban SJ, Kremkow J, Jin J, Wang Y, Lashgari R, Li X, Zaidi Q, Alonso JM. (2014) Neuronal and perceptual differences in the temporal processing of darks and lights. Neuron. 2014 Apr 2;82(1):224-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.02.020. PMID: 24698277

Lin Z, Vasudevan B, Jhanji V, Mao GY, Gao TY, Wang FH, Rong SS, Ciuffreda KJ, Liang YB. (2014) Near Work, Outdoor Activity, and their Association with Refractive Error. Optom Vis Sci. 2014 Apr;91(4):376-82. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000219. PMID: 24637483

Harrison SJ, Backus BT. (2014) A trained perceptual bias that lasts for weeks. Vision Res. 2014 Mar 13. pii: S0042-6989(14)00048-0. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2014.03.001. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24631663 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Martin PR, Lee BB. (2014) Distribution and specificity of S-cone ("blue cone") signals in subcortical visual pathways. Vis Neurosci. 2014 Mar;31(2):177-87. doi: 10.1017/S0952523813000631. Epub 2014 Feb 20.PMID: 24555883

Li X, Chen Y, Lashgari R, Bereshpolova Y, Swadlow HA, Lee BB, Alonso  JM. (2014) Mixing of Chromatic and Luminance Retinal Signals in Primate Area V1. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jan 23. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24464943

Giesel M, Zaidi Q. (2014) Frequency-based heuristics for material perception. J Vis. 2013 Dec 6;13(14). pii: 7. doi: 10.1167/13.14.7. PMID: 24317425

Verselis VK, Srinivas M. (2013) Connexin channel modulators and their mechanisms of action. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Dec;75:517-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.03.020. Epub 2013 Apr 15. PMID: 23597508

Invited Lectures

Alexandra Benavente was invited to give a Provost Lecture talk at SUNY Institute of Technology, Utica, along with Andrea Dziubek from SUNY IT, titled "Mathematical Modeling of Ocular Blood Flow in the Retina" on March 28th 2014 

May 8, 2014

SUNY Plays Large Role at American Optometric Association’s Congressional Advocacy Conference

A large contingent of SUNY College of Optometry students and alumni met with lawmakers in Washington, DC in April as part of the American Optometric Association's 2014 Congressional Advocacy Conference. Part of the focus of this year’s conference was on addressing legislation that would include optometrists in the National Health Service Corps and to recognize optometrists as physicians within Medicaid.

(L-R) Maegan Saver, Flora Lam, Dr.Dawn Chivers, Dr. Fran Reinstein, Tanya Ayzikovich and Dr. Andrea Thau


SUNY Optometry had 32 students along with several alumni among the AOA group, including Dr. Susan Fisher, Dr. Ken Sorkin, Dr. Fran Reinstein and Dr. Andrea Thau. The group met with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as well as New York House members, Rep. Tim Bishop, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Joe Crowley, Rep. Steve Israel, Rep. Peter King, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Tom Reed, and Rep. Paul Tonko.  

May 7, 2014

SUNY Spirit Shines at VisionWalk 2014

SUNY Optometry showed up at Citi Field in full force on May 3rd for VisionWalk 2014, raising nearly $7,300 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness and winning the “Overall Spirit Award” in the process.  

Dr. Susan Schuettenberg, associate clinical professor at the College, served as medical co-chair of the 5k walk which, since its inception in 2006, has seen tens of thousands of participants from across the country and raised over $30 million to fund sight-saving research.  

Over 170 students, faculty and staff from SUNY, and their families, participated.

Donations to the SUNY Optometry team can be made through June 30. Click here for details.

You can see pictures from VisionWalk 2014 by clicking here or watch the slideshow below:


April 24, 2014

Eye Ball 2014

SUNY College of Optometry students, faculty and staff recently celebrated their accomplishments and successes at the annual, student-organized Eye Ball on April 17. This year over 200 members of the SUNY Optometry community enjoyed a great night. The Eye Ball was sponsored by Alcon, ABB Optical Group, Modern Optical and Lombart Instruments. 

Check out some of the great pictures:


April 10, 2014

Alumnus Provides Substantial Support for the Vision and the Promise Campaign

It was announced at the Optometric Center of New York’s ‘Eyes on New York’ gala on March 28 that SUNY College of Optometry alumnus Dr. Mark Feder of the Class of 1983 and his wife Sherrie have provided significant support which, SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath told the audience, would be recognized at the College with the naming of one of its newly-renovated, state-of-the-art classrooms “Feder Hall.” In addition, the College will establish the Dr. Mark Feder Endowed Scholarship and also fund other critical campaign initiatives. “We are proud to support the Vision and the Promise campaign,” Dr. Feder said. “The College plays such a critical role in the community providing education, patient care and research.”

Dr. Feder is the founder of Norwalk Eye Care and has been in private practice in Norwalk, CT since his graduation from the College. He also serves as the chief executive officer of IDOC, an organization for independent optometrists. “SUNY is where I started my career more than three decades ago,” he said, "and it has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me being able to improve so many lives with the gift of sight.”

The Feder’s connection to SUNY Optometry now extends to another generation as their daughter currently attends the College as a Class of 2017 student in the OD program.

“We're very grateful to be able to give back to this wonderful institution that our family has such a close connection to so that they can continue the excellent work that they’re doing with their campaign and beyond,” Dr. Feder said.

The Vision and the Promise is the OCNY’s five-year, $10 million fundraising campaign which is designed to support the College’s education, patient care, research and community health care initiatives.

April 10, 2014

Support to Enhance Optical Services for Students and Patients

SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath announced a $250,000 gift from Essilor of America at Vision Expo East last month. In recognition for the gift, SUNY has named its optical operations the “Essilor Eyewear Center.”

“On behalf of the entire SUNY Optometry community, I would like to express my great appreciation to Essilor for the generosity and significant support to our students, faculty and patients that they are providing through their gift,” President Heath said. “As a result, we will be able to continue to enhance the education of our students, as well as continue to improve our patient care experience and facilitate the operation of our dispensing service.”

As part of the gift, which is being made over a period of five years, Essilor is providing SUNY’s optical lens fabricating laboratory with a new optical lens edger. Through this in-kind donation, as well as cash contributions, SUNY will help to ensure that its optical operations remains an innovative, state-of-the-art facility for both its students at the College and its patients in the University Eye Center.

“The future of optometry is important to Essilor, and through this contribution we are pleased to support SUNY and its efforts to train students in a modern, high-tech facility,” said Dr. Howard Purcell, senior vice president of customer development at Essilor of America. “We are honored to be associated with SUNY and the work they do to provide students with the latest, most innovative equipment as they gain a hands-on learning experience in preparation for their optometric careers.”

The gift was made as part of the Optometric Center of New York’s five-year, $10 million fundraising campaign the Vision and the Promise which is designed to support the College’s education, patient care, research and community health care initiatives.

April 9, 2014

Grants Totaling Up to $1.5 Million Awarded for CVRC Research

The SUNY Research Foundation signed agreements with several industry partners recently that will enable the SUNY College of Optometry to move ahead on a series of clinical research projects designed to improve and enhance eye and vision health in both children and adults. The total combined funding for the studies is approaching $1.5 million.

The projects will be run through the College’s Clinical Vision Research Center (CVRC) and include a long-term study that will examine the effectiveness of spectacles and contact lenses to slow the progression of myopia in children as well as a study that will test a newly developed drug designed for treating inflammation associated with dry eye disease. Agreements for two additional studies that will evaluate new designs of progressive addition spectacle lenses and limbal ring contact lenses were also recently signed.

CVRC founding director, Dr. Kathryn Richdale, is pleased with these recent collaborations and what they mean for not only the College but the larger community.

“These collaborations allow us to offer treatment options not otherwise available to our patients,” Dr. Richdale said.  “I’m proud of the role that SUNY Optometry and the CVRC are playing in the important process of ophthalmic device and drug development and look forward to continued expansion of our industry partnerships.”

The CVRC is beginning the critical process of enrolling subjects for each study. For Information about the specific aims and requirements for each study or to find out how you can enroll in a clinical research study at the SUNY College of Optometry click here.