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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.

April 9, 2014

SUNY Optometry Student Honored by Chancellor

SUNY College of Optometry student Kevin Willeford received the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence during a ceremony with SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher in Albany on April 2. Originally from Easton, PA and a graduate of the University of Miami in Florida, Willeford received his MS in Vision Science from SUNY Optometry last year and is a member of the OD program’s Class of 2014. This summer he’ll begin the PhD in Vision Science program at the College.

Chancellor's Award recipient Kevin Willeford (center) with Chancellor Zimpher and Mr. Vito Cavallaro, SUNY Optometry's director of financial aid

“Students honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence truly embody the power of SUNY,” Chancellor Zimpher said. “As proven leaders and role models, scholar athletes, creative artists, and civic volunteers, each student is recognized not just for academic achievement, but also for the profound impact they have on college campuses and local communities across New York State.”

During his tenure at SUNY Willeford has worked closely with faculty members Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda and Dr. Jerry Rapp, co-publishing research with both of them. He has a particular interest in the electrophysiology of the brain and the role that visual attention plays in learning disabilities. He has also published work on the relationship between age-related macular degeneration and smoking.

“I see the Chancellor's Award as recognition of my hard work over the past four years and I’m humbled to receive it,” Willeford said. “I hope I can continue to represent SUNY Optometry with similar honors in the future.”

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. This year 274 students from across the 64 campuses of the SUNY system received the award.

“We’re exceptionally proud of what Kevin has achieved during his time at the College,” SUNY Optometry President David A. Heath said. “His accomplishments in both our professional program and our graduate program make him a great representative of the excellence that we consistently strive for at the College.”

April 8, 2014

Career Symposium Enlightens and Inspires

The SUNY College of Optometry was buzzing about the future on Sunday at the College’s 3rd Annual Career Symposium: Imagine Tomorrow. The full-day event, produced by the Career Development Center (CDC), assembled a collection of distinguished professionals to provided students and other members of the SUNY community with an informed glimpse at what the future of optometry might look like.

Dr. Jason Singh during his keynote address

Two dozen experts from across a broad spectrum of the optometric community and beyond took part in a variety of fast-paced, interactive panel discussions on such issues as employability, technology, interprofessional practice and more. In addition to its insightful content, this year’s symposium also provided a more intriguing presentation with the Schwarz Theater arranged to look like a living room and the panelist’s images projected for the audience onto a large screen. Video was also incorporated into the symposium’s introductory presentation.  

SUNY Optometry’s president, Dr. David A Heath, noted in his welcoming remarks to the audience that one of the College’s goals when it established the CDC in 2012 was to ensure that the overwhelming majority of students who attend the College end up satisfied in careers of their choosing and that events like the annual career symposium are designed specifically as tools to help the members of the College community achieve that important goal.

A major theme of this year’s event was the globalization of the profession, something that was reflected in the international nature of many of the symposium’s participants. Dr. Fan Lu of Wenzhou Medical University in China, Dr. Hector Santiago who has worked for three decades on the development of optometric education in Latin America and beyond were two of the panelists, while Dr. Jason Singh, the event’s keynote speaker, is the executive director of OneSight, a nonprofit organization that is working to create sustainable solutions for vision care around the world. A complete listing of the participants and their bios can be found by clicking here.

“The energy, the enthusiasm, the collection of talent and the wide range of issues that were addressed helped to make this year’s symposium the best one yet,” said Mr. Francisco Lucio, SUNY Optometry’s director of career development. “It was a great opportunity for the members of our community to really dig into the issues that will matter for their careers in the coming years.” 

See some reactions to the 3rd Annual Career Symposium in the video below:

April 4, 2014

SUNY Residents Put Their Best Foot Forward

Hundreds of people attended SUNY's annual Residents' Day program in mid-March. Co-sponsored by Alcon, Residents' Day is one of the requirements for the doctors in SUNY's residency programs. Residents present on a variety of topics relevant to their specialty and, in the process, provide a variety of COPE-approved continuing education credit for optometrists throughout the community. 



April 1, 2014

Scholarly Activities for April 2014


Dr. Robert McPeek has been awarded a four year National Eye Institute grant totaling $1.5 million. The title of the grant is "Cortical and subcortical control of saccades".   The research project investigates the neural control of saccades, which are rapid eye movements that allow the fovea to fixate objects of interest, making them essential for efficient visual perception and action. Saccade planning involves a network of cortical and subcortical brain areas, but we currently have little idea of how activity across these areas is coordinated to produce an eye movement. The project investigates the interactions among these brain areas during saccades in different contexts, using a combination of both correlational and causal techniques. The results will illuminate the functional architecture of the saccadic eye movement system, and, more generally, will lead toward a better understanding of how cortical and subcortical brain areas interact.


Harrison, S. J., & Backus, B. T. (2014). A trained perceptual bias that lasts for weeks. Vision Research. In press.

Nakata M, Okada Y, Kobata H, Shigematsu T, Reinach PS, Tomoyose K, Saika S. (2014) Diabetes mellitus suppresses hemodialysis-induced increases in tear fluid secretion. BMC Res Notes. 2014 Feb 4;7:78. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-78.

Scheiman M, Ciuffreda KJ, Thiagarajan P, Tannen B, Ludlam D. (2014) Objective assessment of vergence and accommodation after vision therapy for convergence insufficiency in a child: a case report. Optometry and Visual Performance, 2014, 2, 10-15.

Thiagarajan P, Ciuffreda KJ, Capo-Aponte J, Ludlam DP, Kapoor N. (2014) Oculomotor neurorehabilitation for reading in mild traumatic brain injury: an integrative approach Neurorehabilitation, 2014, 34, 129-146.  

Thiagarajan P, Ciuffreda KJ. (2014) Effect of oculomotor rehabilitation on vergence function in mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 2014, 50, 1223-1240.

Vieira SM, Silva RL, Lemos HP, Amorim RC, da Silva EC, Reinach PS, Cunha FQ, Pohlit AM, Cunha TM. (2014)  Gastro-protective effects of isobrucein B, a quassinoid isolated from Picrolemma sprucei. Fitoterapia. 2014 Mar 1. pii: S0367-326X(14)00053-7. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2014.02.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Yadav N.K, Thiagarajan P, Ciuffreda K. J. (2014) Effect of oculomotor vision rehabilitation on the visual-evoked potential and visual attention in mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury (Available online). 2014 Feb 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24564831

Invited Lectures

Backus, B. "Plasticity and learning in visual perception and low-level binocular vision"

March 12, 2014 SUNY Downstate Neuroscience Colloquium (Brooklyn, NY)
and March 14, 2014 Univerisity of British Columbia Neuroscience Seminar (Vancouver, Canada)


Barry Tannen received the "Ludlam Education Award" at the annual Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association's annual meeting on April 5th 2014.

In the Media

Benjamin Backus was asked to give an explanation of an illusion in an NPR blog (read it here) on March 17, 2014 "The green you see is not the green you see" by Tania Lombrozo

March 31, 2014

OCNY Closes in on Campaign Goal, Honors Executive and Humanitarian at Eleventh Annual Gala

The Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), the foundation of the SUNY College of Optometry, held its Eleventh Annual “Eyes on New York” gala Friday night at a glittering Cipriani 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, honoring Mr. Andrea Dorigo, a former president of Luxottica Wholesale, North America and Ms. Edie Lutnick, the co-founder and executive director of The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund. OCNY president Mr. Richard Feinbloom noted in his remarks during the evening that both honorees “have made significant contributions” to their communities through their professional and philanthropic activities.

After taking the podium, SUNY College of Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath told the gathering of more than 350 people from across the ophthalmic community and beyond that the OCNY had now raised more than $9.5 million toward the $10 million goal that was established for the five-year Vision and the Promise campaign which the Foundation launched in 2009 to support the College’s education, patient care, research and community health care initiatives. “It is no longer a question of whether we will reach our goal,” President Heath said, “but by how much we will exceed it.”

During the evening President Heath announced two significant contributions that were recently made to the campaign. Dr. Mark Feder, a 1983 alumnus of SUNY Optometry, and his wife Sherrie provided significant support which, President Heath told the audience, would be recognized by the College naming one of its newly-renovated, state-of-the-art classrooms “Feder Hall.” In addition, the College will establish the Dr. Mark Feder Endowed Scholarship as well as fund other critical campaign initiatives.

“We’re proud to support the Vision and the Promise campaign,” Dr. Feder said in an earlier statement to the College. “SUNY is where I started my career more than three decades ago and it has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me to be able to improve so many lives with the gift of sight.”

President Heath also recognized a $250,000 gift from Essilor of America, the world’s leading provider of eyeglass lenses, which had been announced earlier in the day at Vision Expo East. This support, he noted, will help to ensure that the College’s dispensary remains an innovative facility for both its students as well as for patients of the University Eye Center. It was also announced that, in recognition for their generosity, SUNY Optometry has named its dispensary the “Essilor Eyewear Center.”

Mr. Dorigo, who held several senior management roles at Luxottica before joining Brooks Brothers in the newly-created role of president of North America earlier this year, expressed his honor at being recognized by the OCNY and noted that Luxottica takes “a long view” toward its commitment to both the ophthalmic industry and to the community at large. Mr. Dorigo was graciously introduced by gala co-chair Ms. Holly Rush, the current president of Luxottica Wholesale, North America.

Ms. Lutnick received the OCNY’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, which she established in the wake of 9/11, addresses the needs of victims of terrorism, natural disasters and emergencies. Ms. Lutnick was introduced by co-chair and OCNY vice president Ms. Barbara Saltzman. In her remarks Ms. Lutnick expressed gratitude for the work that optometrists and other eye care professionals do, specifically noting the life-changing care that SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Neera Kapoor provided for one of her friends. 

“It was a remarkable evening and a wonderful testament to the great support that our community continues to provide to this critical campaign,” Ms. Ann Warwick, vice president for institutional advancement at SUNY Optometry and executive director of the OCNY said about the event.


View a slideshow of photos from the evening below, or view individual images by clicking here

Also, you can view the video that was shown at the gala below:

March 14, 2014

UEC’s Referral Service Working with a Growing Community of Practitioners

Since its establishment more than five years ago, the University Eye Center’s Referral Service has provided the clinic with a steady and growing stream of patients. The growth, in fact, has been staggering. Last year, the Referral Service produced close to three times the number of patient encounters than it had just five years earlier. That growth, according to Dr. Harriette Canellos, the Referral Service’s director, can be attributed to several factors, including the UEC’s reputation, the multitude of specialty services that it provides and simple word-of-mouth from a wide range of satisfied referring doctors and other health care professionals in the community.

“When the Referral Service began, we assumed that we would be receiving referrals from doctors in the New York City area,” Dr. Canellos says, “but we quickly started to receive referrals from Long Island, Westchester County and Upstate New York, as well as from Connecticut and beyond. It’s a testament to the good work that we’ve been doing here.”

Many referrals come from optometrists and ophthalmologist looking for specialized services that they don’t perform in their own practices. “Optometrists and ophthalmologists often refer patients to us for things like specialty contact lens fittings, or for our extensive Imaging Service,” Dr. Canellos notes.

Over the past year, however, one area of growth for the Referral Service has been particularly notable. In 2012, more than a quarter of the referrals made through the Referral Service came from specialists outside of the areas of optometry and ophthalmology. Last year, that number grew to more than one-third of all referrals.

Dr. Canellos credits a growing recognition about the importance of an interprofessional approach to health care as part of the reason for this development. “These referring providers are recognizing that optometrists are part of a larger health care team,” Dr. Canellos notes.

This fact seems to be well illustrated in the Referral Services’ data. “Primary care physicians and pediatricians have recognized our excellence when it comes to both routine exams and advanced care,” Dr. Canellos says. “We see referrals from primary care physicians for patients with systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, and we see referrals from pediatricians for children with conditions ranging from eye infections to learning disabilities.” In addition, when a child fails a basic vision screening performed by a pediatrician, that doctor often refers that child to the UEC for a more extensive examination.

The Referral Service is also seeing an expanding number of referrals from beyond the realm of primary care physicians and pediatricians. Specialists are regularly referring their patients to the UEC. “We have dermatologists who refer their patients to our Oculoplastics Service, and neurologists who refer to our Head Trauma Service,” Dr. Canellos says. “And we’re also seeing an increasing number of referrals from professionals like speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational and physical therapists, as well as from school psychologists, teachers and child advocates.”

The Referral Service was created to provide services and testing that complement what the referring practitioners can deliver to their patients. This goal, Dr. Canellos notes, epitomizes what interprofessional health care is all about. But it also helps to highlight the three-pronged mission of the institution—education, research and patient care—to the larger health care community.

“The Referral Service is looking to increase our recognition, not only as a patient care facility but also as an important educational institution that engages in high quality research as well,” she says. “The Referral Service plays a key role in raising the visibility of our entire institutional mission.” 

March 6, 2014

Alumni Association Working to Establish California Chapter

The SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Association is making a serious push to establish a new California chapter designed to represent and support the College’s large and growing cohort of alumni in the Golden State. Working with the assistance of an enthusiastic core of California alumni, including Dr. Raymond Chu, Dr. Valerie Wren, Dr. Long Tran, Dr. Lisa Galstian and Dr. John Gartner, the College has taken the first steps toward developing a chapter that will be split into two geographical sections of California—one northern and one southern—as a way to organize and support its considerable number of alumni in the state which continues to grow at a steady pace each year.

To help jumpstart the process, SUNY Optometry’s associate director of alumni affairs, Mr. Francisco Lomparte launched a LinkedIn professional group designed as a way to organize and energize the College’s California alumni and provide them with a place to gather and discuss issues pertinent to them.

“The LinkedIn group will allow our alumni in California to keep in contact with former classmates, connect with lost friends, find out about new practice opportunities, read articles related to the profession and even learn about and participate in future continuing education webinars hosted by the College which they will be able to take advantage of, even from 3,000 miles away,” Mr. Lomparte said. 

The College has been working hard to provide its alumni with personalized services that provide value to them as they build their careers.

“It’s important for us to continue to find ways to engage and inform our alumni, as well as to provide them with a variety of different ways to stay connected to their alma mater and gain value from their relationship with us,” Ms. Ann Warwick, vice president for institutional advancement at SUNY Optometry said.

The SUNY Alumni Association will continue to develop this new California chapter, with the assistance of its California-based alumni, by establishing a presence at upcoming professional meetings in the state.

March 3, 2014

Scholarly Activities for March 2014

Bachy R and Zaidi Q. (2014) Factors governing the speed of color adaptation in foveal versus peripheral vision.  J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 31, A220-A225.

Cooper B. and Lee B. (2014) (CV) Independence and interaction of luminance and chromatic contributions to spatial hyperacuity performance. J.Opt. Soc. of Am. A: Accepted February 2014. Doc. ID: 198653.

Kelly ST, Kremkow J, Jin J, Wang Y, Wang Q,  Alonso JM and  Stanley GB (2014). The role of thalamic population synchrony in the emergence of cortical feature selectivity. PLoS computational biology 10(1): e1003418. PMID: 24415930.  PMCID: 3886888.

Kremkow J, Jin J, Komban SJ, Wang Y, Lashgari R, Li X, Jansen M, Zaidi Q and Alonso JM (2014). Neuronal nonlinearity explains greater visual spatial resolution for darks than lights. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.  PMID:24516130.

Li X, Chen Y, Lashgari R, Bereshpolova Y, Swadlow HA, Lee BB and Alonso JM (2014). Mixing of Chromatic and Luminance Retinal Signals in Primate Area V1. Cerebral cortex. PMID: 24464943. 

Nakata M, Okada Y,  Kobata H, Shigematsu T, Reinach PA, Tomoyose K, and Saika S. (2014) Diabetes mellitus suppresses hemodialysis induced increases in tear fluid secretion. BMC Research Notes 2014, 7:78. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/7/78

Swanson WH, Dul MW, Horner DG, Liu T, Tran I.  (2014).  Assessing Spatial and Temporal Properties of Perimetric Stimuli for Resistance to Clinical Variations in Retinal Illumination.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.  Jan 20; 55(1): 353-359. Doi:10.1167/iovs. 13-11640. PMID:24370832.

Wagner H, Richdale K, Mitchell GL, Lam DY., Jansen ME, Kinoshita BT, Sorbara L, Chalmers RL for the CLAY Study Group (2014). Age, Behavior, Environment, and Health Factors in the Soft Contact Lens Risk Survey.  Optometry & Vision Science, 16 January 2014.  doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000164


Dr. Barry Tannen lectured at the Winter Education Series in Princeton, NJ on March 2nd 2014 on behalf of the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians. The topic was "Visual Consequences of Sports Related Concussions: Diagnosis, Management and Treatment Strategies" and "Oral Medications Used in the Treatment of Acquired Brain Injury" 

February 27, 2014

OCNY to Honor Luxottica Executive and Philanthropist at Eleventh Annual Gala

The Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) is set to honor Mr. Andrea Dorigo, the past president of Luxottica Wholesale, North America and Ms. Edie Lutnick, the co-founder and executive director of The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, at the organization’s eleventh annual, “Eyes on New York” gala on March 28 in New York City.

The co-chairs of the marquee event, which will once again be held at the iconic Cipriani 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, are Ms. Holly Rush, the current president of Luxottica Wholesale, North America and Ms. Barbara Saltzman, the OCNY vice president. 

The ‘Eyes on New York’ gala supports the ongoing work of the OCNY which is currently in the final year of its five-year, $10 million Vision and the Promise Campaign. The campaign supports community health care projects, such as the growing collaboration between the SUNY College of Optometry and the Bowery Mission that helps to provide hundreds of indigent New Yorkers with free vision care and the Homebound Program that has provided hundreds of New Yorkers who are unable to leave their homes with invaluable care. Over the course of the campaign, the OCNY was also established 16 new scholarships for students to attend the College as well as funding numerous, ongoing research projects.

Mr. Dorigo held several senior management roles at Luxottica since arriving at the company in 2005. Earlier this year he left Luxottica to join Brooks Brothers in the newly-created role as president of North America.

Ms. Lutnick, an advocate and author, established the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund on September 14, 2001 to address the short and long term needs of victims of terrorism, natural disasters and emergencies. Under Ms. Lutnick's leadership the organization has raised and distributed over $180 million to over 800 families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"Our gala, which has become a tradition for our Trustees and for industry leaders who attend Vision Expo East,” said Ms. Ann Warwick, executive director of the OCNY and vice president for Institutional Advancement at the College. “This event pays tribute to two people whose unique creative vision represents the very best in personal and professional achievement."

For ticket information, visit www.sunyopt.edu/gala or contact Ms. Warwick at 212.938.5600 or awarwick@sunyopt.edu

February 21, 2014

Find Out About Our Current Clinical Vision Research Center Studies

One year ago the SUNY College of Optometry officially opened its Clinical Vision Research Center (CVRC) as a way to provide an opportunity for faculty, patients, industry and government research partners to work together to conduct critical research that will advance vision care. “Research is a priority of this institution,” SUNY Optometry president Dr. David A. Heath said at the inauguration of the CVRC in February 2013, “it is an integral part of our mission.” 

The CVRC has hit the ground running, partnering with a variety of entities to engage in numerous studies in a variety of areas. Here’s a look at the current studies being conducted at the CVRC and information about how patients can get involved. 

If you have any questions or would like to find out how to participate in any of these studies, please contact the CVRC directly at 212-938-4052 or clinicresearch@sunyopt.edu



Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Study (CITS)

Convergence insufficiency is a problem where the eyes do not turn in enough when reading or looking at something close to your eyes. As a result, it takes extra effort to do near work and this extra effort can cause symptoms of eyestrain, blurred or double vision, headaches and reading problems.  To treat convergence insufficiency, in office or at home vision therapy is recommended to help the eyes work together better. Two treatments that are often used are therapy using hand-held equipment and therapy using computer software. 

The purpose of this study is to see which treatment therapy, hand held equipment or computer software, works better at home. The study is being conducted by the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group and is sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the US National Institutes of Health. The study will include 600 children nationwide who have convergence insufficiency. Children who have been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency and are between the ages of nine and 18 might be eligible. The study can take up to five visits and participants are compensated $40 per visit.


Hyperopia Treatment Study 1 (HTS1)

This study is being conducted because it is not known if hyperopia (or farsightedness) in children should be treated right away or if it is better to treat only when vision problems like an eye turn or lazy eye occur. As part of this study, some children will be prescribed glasses and others will not. All of the children will be closely monitored for vision problems. The study is being conducted by the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group and is sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the US National Institutes of Health. The study will include up to 700 children nationwide, between the ages of one and five, who have hyperopia and have never worn glasses or contact lenses. Subjects are compensated $40 per visit and must be willing to participate in up to seven study visits.

Contact Lens Assessment in Youth Observation of Risks Associated with Contact Lenses (CLAY ORACL) Study

This study is designed to learn more about why some people who wear contact lenses are more likely to get infections than others. It involves a single visit where participants will be examined, asked to complete a series of surveys and have their eyes, contact lens and lens case cultured. This study is sponsored by an unrestricted grant from Alcon Laboratories and is looking for individuals between the ages of 12 and 33 who currently wear soft contact lens. The study requires both healthy contact lens wearers (without any complications) and those who have a “red eye” or eye infection.

Prior to enrollment a doctor will determine whether or not you meet all the criteria to participate in the study. Participants should allow approximately 45 minutes to an hour for completion of the single visit study. Those who complete the study will be compensated $50 for their time. 

Treatment Response in Accommodative Insufficiency (TRAIn) Study

This study is designed to learn more about accommodative insufficiency, a condition that makes it difficult for people to focus their eyes for near work. Eight schools and colleges of optometry from across the United States and Canada are participating in the study. At SUNY, the study is sponsored by the Schnurmacher Institute for Vision Research.

Individuals, between the ages of nine and 30 years old, who get tired eyes while reading might be eligible to participate in this two-visit study. The first visit includes testing the participant’s focusing ability and completing a survey. The second visit involves completing a survey. Participants will be paid up to $50 if they complete the study.


Healthy volunteers are always needed

Interested in participating in an eye or vision research study? Many of the CVRC’s studies require healthy patients as controls to compare to people with an eye or vision problem. If you have any questions about clinical research or would like to find out more about how to participate in a study, please contact the CVRC at 212-938-4052.

February 12, 2014

SUNY Optometry Community Highlights Critical Health Issue

The College highlighted the importance of heart health awareness on February 11 with students, faculty and staff—dressed brightly in red—handing out more than 400 red ribbons and information designed to educate and enlighten the community about this critical health issue. The event, which was organized by the student chapter of the American Public Health Association, is also emblematic of the overall commitment that the University Eye Center and the SUNY College of Optometry have toward addressing important public health issues.

Watch this video to find out more about Heart Health Awareness Day at SUNY Optometry: 


February 11, 2014

SUNY Optometry Researchers Solve 400-Year-Old Question

It was a problem that perplexed Galileo more than four centuries ago. Now, SUNY Optometry researchers have published a seminal paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that advances the understanding of how our brains are wired for seeing white versus black objects, solving this long-standing conundrum.

The effect that Drs. Jens KremkowJose Manuel AlonsoQasim Zaidi and their collaborators studied is responsible for how we see everything from textures and faces, to why it is easier to read a page with black-on-white lettering, rather than white-on-black (a well-known, and until now, unexplained phenomenon.) By tracing these effects as a function of the way neurons are laid out and interconnected in the retina and brain, the researchers found that the illusion is potentially derived from the very origin of vision—in photoreceptors of the eye themselves.

Here's a closer look behind the work that was published on February 10, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (click here to view the paper) 

The publication created a flood of global media attention which you can view here.

February 7, 2014

SUNY Optometry Celebrates Lunar New Year

The Chinese Culture Optometric Students Association, in conjunction with the Confucius Institute, hosted a celebration of the Lunar New Year at the College on Friday, February 7. The event included a lion dance performance, food and more.


February 4, 2014

Students Can Now Choose from a Wider Range of Courses

SUNY Optometry has recently expanded the elective course offerings in its Doctor of Optometry (OD) program as a way to provide students with an even broader range of learning opportunities.

Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for academic affairs at the College, answers a few questions about what these new electives mean for students. 


What kinds of new electives are being offered as part of the curriculum?

We offer students in our professional (OD) program electives on a variety of advanced topics that enhance their understanding and delivery of clinical care by diving deeper into general areas such as special topics in ocular disease, use of advanced diagnostic technologies, evidence based practice, emerging trends in clinical care, public health and foreign languages for clinical care.

The teaching formats are generally designed for small groups, many are in a seminar group discussion format, others include laboratory or clinical components, some are independent studies, many involve presentations and some even have international travel associated with them.

Why are these electives being added to the course offerings at the College?

The OD curriculum at the College already provides an excellent preparation for entry into clinic practice. In fact, we’re proud that the elements of our curriculum anticipate and prepare our students for the optometric practice of the future. Our elective program provides greater opportunities for students to customize their education by adding material that they find particularly interesting and valuable.

Have you seen an increased interest from students recently for a wider selection of elective courses?

Our students were asked and have identified many of the topics covered in our elective catalog, and our faculty has responded with many new offerings. The catalog grows each year and we pay careful attention to which electives are most popular. We also sometimes consider certain electives for inclusion into the required OD curriculum.

What does the College hope to achieve by providing a broader array of courses to students in the OD program?

We see our electives as value-added to an already strong program. They also help us meet one of our strategic goals, which is to deliver a customizable professional degree that enhances the student experience while ensuring active and integrated learning. We believe our electives advance student knowledge and prepare them even better to deliver the highest quality, problem-oriented, evidence based patient care possible. 

January 31, 2014

Scholarly Activities for January 2014


Bachy R and Zaidi Q.  (2013)  Factors governing the speed of color adaptation in foveal versus peripheral vision.   Journal of the Optical Society of America A:  Accepted: 27 December 2013. Doc. ID: 198967

Ciuffreda K J, Yadav  NK, Ludlam DP. Effect of binasal occlusion (BNO) on the visual-evoked potential (VEP) in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Brain Injury. 2013. 27:41-47.

Kelly  ST,  Kremkow J, Jin J, Wang Y,  Wang Q ,  Alonso JM and Stanley GB (2014). The role of thalamic population synchrony in the emergence of cortical feature selectivity. PLoS computational biology 10(1): e1003418. PMID: 24415930.  PMCID.

Kremkow, J., Jin, J., Komban, S.J., Wamg, Y., Lashgari, R., Li, X., Jansen, M., Zaidi, Q., Alonso, J.M. (2014) Neuronal nonlinearity explains greater visual spatial resolution for darks than lights. PNAS (in press).

Swanson WH, Dul MW, Horner DG, Liu T,  and Tran I.  (2013) Assessing  Spatial and Temporal Properties of Perimetric Stimuli for Resistance to  Clinical Variations in Retinal Illumination.  Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. December 26k, 2013. IOVS -13-11640.

Willeford K.T, Ciuffreda K.J, Yadav N.K, Ludlam D.P. Objective assessment of the human visual attentional state. Documenta Ophthalmologica.  2013. 126:29-44.

Willeford K.T, Ciuffreda K.J, Yadav N.K. Effect of test duration on the visual-evoked potential (VEP) and alpha-wave responses. Documenta Ophthalmologica.  2013. 126:105-115.

Xiaobing Li, Y. Chen, R. Lashgari, Y. Bereshpolova, H.A. Swadlow, B.B. Lee and J. M. Alonso (2014). Mixing of chromatic and luminance retinal signals in primate area V1. Cerebral Cortex (in press).

Zhuang, J., C. R. Stoelzel, Y. Bereshpolova, J. M. Huff, X. Hei, J. M. Alonso and H. A. Swadlow (2013). Layer 4 in primary visual cortex of the awake rabbit: contrasting properties of simple cells and putative feedforward inhibitory interneurons. The Journal of neuroscience  33(28): 11372-89. PMID: 23843510.  PMCID: 3724558.

January 30, 2014

SUNY Optometry Honors MLK by Providing Vision Care to Community

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as part of a state-wide initiative by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State University of New York, the SUNY College of Optometry provided a free vision screening in the East Harlem community of New York City.

Eleven students from the College participated alongside faculty members Dr. Andre Stanberry, Dr. Krisitine Zabala, Dr. Christina Llerena. The College’s director of career services and minority enrichment, Mr. Francisco Lucio, was also at the event.

The screening was done in collaboration with the New York State Optometric Association Student Society, the Optometric Society of the City of New York, the University Eye Center, the New York City Mayor’s Office and GenerationOn, a global youth service network.

“This vision screening was part of a larger community event that brought together middle school students and their families for a day of service in the spirit of unity to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Mr. Lucio said. “It was a great experience to see our students and doctors provide the vision screening to the community of East Harlem.”

The event provided residents of East Harlem—both children and adults—with a general ocular health screening. If those screened are found to require further examination they are typically referred to the University Eye Center by one of the attending doctors.

Class of 2015 student, and current president of the NYSOA Student Society, Chelsea Ashlaw explained that beyond providing students with the opportunity to give back to their community, the screening also presented a valuable learning experience as well.

“It was great to see students working together and helping each other as well as the members of the community,” she said. “Screenings like these are a good supplement to our education and at the same time we are able to provide eye health awareness and care for children and their parents.”

Later that same week, members of SUNY Optometry’s Student Chapter of the American Public Health Association conducted a glaucoma screening at the Greater Harlem Nursing Home. In addition to providing a vital public health service to elderly members of the community, it also provided students with additional clinical practice as well as a chance to gain more experience working with patients.

"It was a unique opportunity for us to help the community while increasing our experience among an older segment of the population," Class of 2016 student Beth Kurh said.

The College and the University Eye Center regularly provide a variety of community screenings and educational events throughout the New York City region and beyond.

“One of our core values as an institution is our commitment to providing service to our community,” said SUNY College of Optometry President Dr. David A. Heath. “We serve thousands of people throughout our community at events like these each year and I’m always especially delighted when our students have the opportunity to take such an important and leading role in the effort.”


January 28, 2014

Harold Kohn Vision Science Library Focuses on the Future

One of the greatest challenges facing any library today—particularly academic libraries—is how to properly adapt to the ever-changing landscape of new technology. In addition to understanding these technologies themselves, library administrators must also understand, and often predict, exactly how these technologies will affect how their library is utilized by those who rely on it as a vital tool for learning and research. The SUNY College of Optometry’s Harold Kohn Vision Science Library, one of the premier vision science libraries in the United States, is dealing with this systemic challenge head on.

“We certainly take advantage of training opportunities in order to keep up-to-date with best practices,” Ms. Elaine Wells, MA, MLS, Kohn Library’s director explains. “Like many institutions, libraries are in a constant state of flux in order to keep up with technological changes and shifts in how our resources are utilized.”

In order to better understand how library patrons use its facilities, Kohn Library’s staff has developed and implemented a series of benchmarks that measure digital resource use, as well as demand for the services they provide. The goal is to assess the value of current resources and activities and proactively adapt as the need arises.

“We endeavor to create a library ‘without walls,’ where most of our resources are available 24/7 in digital format,” Ms. Wells says. “Students have increasingly come to expect that their information needs will be met immediately, and while we are definitely moving in that direction, not everything they need is available online and costs can sometimes be prohibitive.” However, students still come together at the library to study, relax after exams and just spend time together. “In that way,” Ms. Wells explains,” the library remains very much at the heart of the institution and maintains an important physical presence as it always has.”

Beyond this shift toward digital content and monitoring use, the Kohn Library is also looking to facilitate seamless and lifelong learning for its entire community of constituents—students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and other professionals.

One of the particular areas of focus for the Kohn Library today is making sure that its broad swath of constituents who don’t regularly visit the College’s midtown Manhattan campus—particularly alumni—are fully aware of the enormous resources available to them.

“We offer a lot of services at the library that many people might not know about,” says Ms. Kim Oliver, the Kohn Library’s outreach and services coordinator.  “These services include personalized assistance with research and access to journals and other information,” she notes. “We also strive to ensure that all of SUNY Optometry’s faculty and staff, including adjuncts and alumni, know how to access everything we can offer them.”

In addition, alumni and adjunct faculty can register for services like journal table of contents delivery which enables them to see what is being published in their specific area of interest as soon as it becomes available. Practitioners and researchers with special patient care needs or areas of research interest can also get assistance with automated searches so that they can scan the latest articles for new developments. Adjuncts and alumni are also able to search the online catalog from the library’s website and can borrow any circulating book.

The Kohn Library also sends out a quarterly newsletter to the community that provides reminders about its services as well as articles on ongoing research, upcoming events and new publications.  


For more information about the Harold Kohn Vision Science Library, and for a complete list of their services visit http://www.sunyopt.edu/library

January 24, 2014

Internship Program Provides Unparalleled Experience for CSTEP Students

For two weeks this January a dozen undergraduate college students from throughout New York State participated in the SUNY College of Optometry’s CSTEP Winter Internship Program. The students had the opportunity to attend lectures by College faculty members and experience first-hand what it’s like to work with and care for patients in the University Eye Center.

The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program is a New York State-sponsored initiative designed to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students in the sciences. SUNY Optometry is an enthusiastic partner in the CSTEP program. In addition to the internship programs, the College hosts a free, eight-week Summer Academic Program each year from May to July.

Find out what some of this year’s students thought about their experiences in this unique internship program:

January 22, 2014

President Heath Offers Praise, Urges Community Dialogue during Annual Address

On January 21, SUNY College of Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath, gave his annual State of the College address to the institutional community.

You can watch the entire address below:

January 7, 2014

Alumnus Named VOSH Humanitarian of the Year

SUNY College of Optometry alumnus, Dr. Carl Sakovits was named the Humanitarian of the Year for 2013 by VOSH International, an organization that provides vision care and optometric services to those who cannot obtain or afford it around the world.

Dr. Sakovits, along with classmates Greg Rios, Spencer Moy and George Kaknis, founded the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity chapter at SUNY in 1987. Following graduation, Dr. Sakovits continued to work with the SUNY chapter and in 1998 he was named SUNY’s first-ever ‘Alumnus of the Year.’ In addition, Dr. Sakovits was the recipient of the Dr. Max Cohen Memorial Award for outstanding volunteer commitment to community service and the Dr. Louis Herman Memorial Award for dedication and commitment to VOSH.

Dr. Sakovits also founded the Northeast chapter of VOSH and has served as its president for the past 25 years. He has organized and led over 25 multi-disciplinary medical missions to Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama.

Dr. Sakovits, a 1988 graduate of the College, practices in Bristol, RI. He was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year award at a ceremony in San Juan Puerto Rico last year. Watch the video below:


December 16, 2013

Dr. Richard Soden on What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

Dr. Richard Soden is vice president for clinical affairs at the College and the executive director of the University Eye Center. He is also a recognized authority on health care reform who has lectured widely on the topic over the years. As the Affordable Care Act begins to take effect across the United States, we asked him a few questions about what it will mean for people seeking optometric care.


With the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare” or the ACA) rolling out across the country, give us some of your general impressions about what it means and how much of a landmark this new legislation is for heath care in the United States.

The Affordable Care Act has created the most dramatic change in health care in the United States since the creation of Medicare in 1965. Approximately 30-40 million people who were not previously covered by any health care plan before will be able to receive health care coverage now as a result of this legislation. The emphasis of the new law is placed on primary care and prevention of diseases and eye examinations are one of the core components of this.

The ACA’s major goal is to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care and are reasonably able to obtain health insurance coverage. As a result, its primary focus is to provide health insurance coverage to those who have been uninsured and to encourage enrollment in health care coverage plans by offering subsidies (for those who qualify) to purchase coverage.

Despite the initial, and well publicized, issues related to the healthcare.gov website, the ACA has revolutionized health care in this country by creating new models for value-based health care delivery that focuses both on quality and results.


One of the major elements of the ACA is the pediatric vision care benefit. Can you explain this benefit for us and discuss any other vision care-related coverage people should be aware of?

With the pediatric vision care benefit, millions of children are gaining health insurance coverage through the age of 18 and will have access to an annual comprehensive eye exam and treatment from an optometrist. This benefit is one of the cornerstones of the ACA and it must be offered by all new small group and individual health insurance plans.

By including the pediatric vision care benefit as part of the law, the ACA is recognizing that regular comprehensive eye exams for children are essential to ensuring visual health and readiness for school.

Although adult vision care is not designated as an essential benefit under the new law, medical eye care services—that is, anything related to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases—will continue to be covered by all health insurance plans.  The millions of adults who are gaining insurance coverage for the first time under the ACA will be able to access optometrists for their medical eye care needs.


In what ways will the ACA affect vision insurance plans?

Companies that offer vision care plans will not be allowed to sell these plans directly through the health care exchanges that have been set up by the federal government and the various state governments. Instead, they will need to work with the health insurance companies that offer coverage to patients through these exchanges. Health insurance companies may choose to contract with companies that offer vision plans in order to have them administer a vision care benefit for their customers.

Increased demand for children’s eye care services, thanks to the previously mentioned pediatric vision benefit, will require many health care plans to add optometrists as participating providers starting now and continuing into early 2014.


How has the University Eye Center prepared for the implementation of the ACA?

The UEC is already a participating provider on many of the plans that are currently selling through the exchanges and we are working with the insurance companies that we are not currently participating with in order to become participating providers.

We have also worked to ensure that our capacity to see more pediatric patients as well as other patients who will now have insurance coverage is able to meet the expected demand in 2014 and beyond. As we have for decades, the UEC will be able to continue to offer the most comprehensive and cutting-edge eye and vision care to both children and adults now and into the future.

December 13, 2013

See How the Vision and The Promise Campaign is Making a Difference

December 10, 2013

Unique Mentoring Program Launched by the Career Development Center

The Career Development Center (CDC) was established in 2012 as way to help the students, residents and alumni of the College meet their career goals. Through its various programs, events and individualized activities, the CDC has created opportunities for busy students and professionals to connect and create meaningful relationships that are critical for career development and advancement.

Recently, the CDC developed a unique new mentoring program, the first of its kind among schools and colleges of optometry, called the Family of Mentors Program. We asked Mr. Francisco Lucio, director of career development and minority enrichment at the College, to answer a few questions about this new program and talk to us about its goals.

Tell us why the Career Development Center decided to create the Family of Mentors program as one of the services it provides to students and residents at the College?

No one ever makes it alone. Everyone who has ever achieved career success has done it with the help of others. Mentoring is a focused effort to facilitate career success because there is a rich and meaningful connection formed between a mentor and mentee. The CDC felt that it was crucial to create that space where mentoring relationships could form and thrive, and thus, the development of the Family of Mentors Program. But beyond the positive impact to the individual mentor and mentee, the Family of Mentors Program exists within the context of the larger optometric field that is enhanced as future and current optometrists are nurtured.

What do you hope that students and residents will gain most from their interaction with their mentor?

My hope is that students and residents will make a deep and meaningful connection with a life-long colleague. So often in today’s fast-paced world of text messages, tweets and one-line email responses opportunities to truly get to know someone are lost. The structured Family of Mentors Program creates built-in opportunities for mentors and mentees to get to know one another via monthly discussion prompts that touch on not just optometry, but also on personal goals and aspirations.

How about the mentors, what would you like them to take away from their experience mentoring?

As a former teacher, I know the great satisfaction one receives from helping a young person grow and achieve their goals, so I’m positive our mentors will get similar satisfaction from helping their mentees. And more often than not, it is the mentor who ends up gaining the most from the relationship because he or she has the opportunity to be introspective and giving.

What kinds of mentors are you looking for? Do they have to be in the optometric profession or are you looking to recruit mentors with a variety of professional backgrounds?

We're looking for mentors with the passion to help students and residents here at the College. We want mentors who come from all walks of life and have decided to take on the responsibility of developing a future colleague.

The mentors we're seeking can come from other professional backgrounds because there is a lot that can be learned from someone else’s experience; however, our mentors should be familiar with the optometry student or resident experience and the optometric profession in general. For example, we may have industry partners and consultants who can provide a unique perspective on the optometric career, and that is a very valuable thing.

To find out more about the Family of Mentors Program visit the website

December 9, 2013

December 2013 Scholarly Activities


Hue JE, Rosenfield M, Saa G.  (2013)  Reading from electronic devices versus hardcopy text.  Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation. Publisher IOS Press .ISSN 1051-9815 (Print) 1875-9270 (Online).

Lin Z, Vasudevan B, Jhanji V, Gao TY, Wang, NL, Wang Q, Wang J, Ciuffreda KJ, Liang YB. (2013) Eye exercises of acupoints: their impact on refractive error and visual symptoms in Chinese urban children. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:306 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-306

Thiagarajan P, Ciuffreda KJ, Capo-Aponte JE, Ludlam DP, Kapoor N. (2013) Oculomotor neurorehabilitation for reading in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI): An integrative approach.  NeuroRehabilitation. 2013 Nov 27.   Prepress.

Zaidi Q, Victor J, McDermott J, Geffen M, Bensmaia S, Cleland TA.  (2013) Perceptual spaces: mathematical structures to neural mechanisms.  J Neurosci. 2013 Nov 6;33(45):17597-602. doi: 10.15 23/JNEUROSCI.3343-13.2013. PMID: 24198350 [PubMed - in process]


Posters/Presentations at  Society for Neuroscience Conference , November 2013, San Diego, CA

Backus BT, Law CL.  Theory-based options for assessing and treating disorders of binocular vision.  .  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Bereshpolova YI, Stoelzel CR, Zhuang J, Alonso JM, Swadlow HA.  V1 Corticogeniculate input to LGN is sustained. Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Caziot B, Park J, Harwood MR, McPeek RM,  Changes in build-up rate and threshold level in superior colliculus neurons in a simple saccadic decision task.  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Hei X, Stoelzel CR, Zhuang J, Bereshpolova Y, Huff JM, Alonso JM, Swadlow HA.  Directional selective neruons in rabbit LGNd project to layer 4 of V1 and are modulated by brain state.  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Jansen M, Li X, Lashgari R, Kremkow Y, Bereshpolova Y, Swadlow H, Zaidi Q, Alonso JM.  Spatial tuning for color and luminance in awake area V1.  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Komban SJ, Jin J, Kremkow J, Wang Y, Lashgari RR, Alonso JM, Zaidi Q.  Cross-orientaton interactions between on and off pathways.   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Kremkow J, Jin J, Komban SJ, Wang Y, Lashgari R, Alonso JM.  Asymmetries in ON and Off cortical retinotopy: are OFF receptive fields the anchors of cortical retinotopic maps?  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Li X, Lashgari R, Jansen M, Bereshpolova Y, Swadlow HA, Alonso JM.  Increased attentional suppression of cortical LFP with practice time. Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Pola J, Matin E, Matin L.  The Influence of saccadic adaptation on perceived location of the pre-saccade fixation target and the saccade goal target.   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Stoelzel  CR, Bereshpolova J, Zhuang J, Alonso JM, Swadlow HA.  The Tortoise and the Hare: Fast vs. very slow corticogeniculate axons differ in visual response properties.   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Wang, Y, Jin J, Kremkow J, Komban  SJ, Lashgari R, Alonso JM.  Vertical organization of spatial phase in cat primary visual cortex. .   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Wool LE, Kremkow J, Jansen M, Li X, Bereshpolova Y, Swadlow H, Zaidi Q, Alonso JM.  Electrophysiological correlates of color salience.   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Zhuang J, Stoelzel CR, Befeshpolova, Huff JM, Hei X , Alonso JM, Swadlow HA. Layer 4 in primary visual cortex of the awake rabbit: Contrasting properties of simple cells and putative feed-forward inhibitory interneurons.  Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Zaidi Q.  Minisyposium: Geometric structure of perceptual color space.   Society for Neuroscience Conference, November 2013, San Diego, CA.

Invited Talks/Lectures

Dr. Peter Reinach has been invited to lecture on the Potential drug targets for improved management of ocular  inflammation and fibrosis at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Department of Ophthalmology in Sao Paulo Brazil on  December 4, 2013.

December 9, 2013

2013 Year in Review

December 9, 2013

SUNY System Tackles Big Data at Critical Issues Conference

In late October the State University of New York system hosted the third in its Critical Issues in Higher Education conference series in New York City, bringing together a vast number of higher education administrators, including President Heath and others from the SUNY College of Optometry.

Titled “BUILDING A SMARTER UNIVERSITY: Big Data, Innovation and Ingenuity,” the two-day conference offered presentations by more than 65 speakers from across the country, focusing on the value and use of data for improving higher education, including the student experience, research, infrastructure and beyond . The keynote speaker, Harper Reed, is a self-described “hacker/engineer” who was the chief technology officer for the “Obama for America” campaign in 2012.

“SUNY is well-positioned to take a leadership role in exploring how the tidal wave of data surrounding us can be used to build smarter universities,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said in a statement about the conference.

SUNY designed the Critical Issues in Higher Education conference series in 2011 as a way to bring together national thought leaders to examine, discuss and debate critical issues confronting higher education.

December 6, 2013

Homebound Program Gets Continued Support

The Arthur and Phyllis Milton Foundation has reiterated its ongoing support for SUNY's Manhattan Homebound program, providing the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), the philanthropic wing of the SUNY College of Optometry, with a $10,000 grant to help fund the unique service.  The program, which was developed to provide individuals who are struggling with their mobility the opportunity to receive high-quality eye and vision care from University Eye Center doctors in their home, has long been a focus of the OCNY’s fundraising activities and a staple of the UEC’s community outreach activities. The Milton Foundation has supported the program since 2010.

The Manhattan Homebound program serves approximately 120 patients throughout the borough each year providing everything from routine eye exams to ongoing treatment for a wide-range of ocular issues such as glaucoma, cataracts and low vision.

“We have been able to help hundreds of people who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to receive crucial eye and vision care,” said Dr. Richard Soden, vice president for clinical affairs at the College. “Without the support of the OCNY and the Milton Foundation this program would not exist so I am extremely grateful for what they have done over the years to help us better serve our community.” 

December 6, 2013

SUNY Optometry Takes an Interprofessional Approach to Diabetes

November was Diabetes Awareness Month and the members of the Student Chapter of the American Public Health Association (SAPHA) took an active and interprofessional approach toward recognizing the occasion at the College.

In addition to posting diabetes facts throughout the College and providing reference cards about diabetes for students to use with their patients in the University Eye Center, SAPHA hosted Dr. Gary Glickman, an ophthalmologist from the Diabetic Eye Center in New York who specializes in diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Glickman spoke to a capacity crowd of students and faculty about the disease at the College on November 20.

SAPHA also sponsored a presentation by Ms. Neelam Gaur, a health coach who specializes in holistic nutrition and preventative wellness issues. Ms. Gaur spoke to students, faculty and staff at the College about nutrition and diabetes. 

December 5, 2013

SUNY Optometry’s Low Vision Center Making a Growing Impact in China

The Optometric Center of New York, the philanthropic wing of the SUNY College of Optometry, has received the second installment of a nearly half-a-million dollar grant from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind to expand its low vision and vision rehabilitation clinic in Wenzhou, China.

In 2008 the College established the Center for Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation at Wenzhou Medical University  (WMU) and four years later, in 2012, it received a three-year grant totaling more than $420,000 from Lavelle to expand on the work that it is doing and serve more low vision patients in China.

Over the past year the grant has enabled the Center to establish a satellite clinic at an eye hospital, affiliated with WMU, in the city of Hangzhou. In addition, a close association with several schools that serve visually impaired students in Zhejiang province was developed. The Center is helping these schools screen children and, in some cases, it has established special classrooms designed to assist low vision students studying there.

Over the past year, doctors and other staff members from the Center have traveled to the College and elsewhere in the United States in order to receive more advanced training in the use of field expansion devices, bioptic telescopes and other assistive technologies. The grant has also enabled the Center to begin the process of improving data collection and patient tracking systems which will ultimately allow the clinic to better serve a greater number of patients.

A large and increasing number of individuals suffer from low vision in China, particularly in rural areas of the country.  The low vision population in China also includes a larger proportion of children than in the United States. The Center for Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation was established to help address this major public health issue and improve the lives of many of those living with low vision in China.

“In just a few short years, the Center has established its reputation in China as a resource for the training of low vision and vision rehabilitation personnel from hospitals throughout China,” said SUNY Optometry’s Dr. Michael H. Heiberger.  “Having demonstrated a model to serve the needs of the visually handicapped, the Center, under the current grant from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, is developing a database to demonstrate the sustainability of its efforts.”

The Lavelle Fund for the Blind, which supports programs that help people who are blind and visually impaired lead independent and productive lives, will provide the final installment of the grant next year.

December 5, 2013

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman Pays a Visit to SUNY Optometry

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman made his first official visit to the SUNY College of Optometry recently to meet with senior administrators at the College and tour its Midtown Manhattan campus. Senator Hoylman, who was elected to the New York State Senate in 2012, represents the state’s 27th District where the College is located. During his first year in Albany, Senator Hoylman has proven to be a strong supporter on issues related to both education and health care.

In addition to meeting with SUNY Optometry’s president, Dr. David Heath, and other members of the administration, Senator Hoylman was briefed about some of the College’s ongoing research activities by Dr. David Troilo, vice president and dean for academic affairs, and had the opportunity to see some recently-completed renovations to the College’s research facilities.

Senator Hoylman (far left) listens to members of the College's administration during a tour of the UEC

Senator Hoylman also spoke with Ms. Liduvina Martinez-Gonzales, the chief operating officer of the University Eye Center, about the various services that the clinic provides to tens of thousands of people—including many of his constituents—each year.

The College maintains close ties to its elected representatives in Albany. Longtime Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the College’s representative in the New York State Assembly, has been a close friend of the institution for a number of years.

The SUNY College of Optometry has produced the majority of optometrists currently practicing in New York State. It also makes a valuable contribution toward clinical and basic visual sciences research through a consortium with other SUNY institutions as a member of the SUNY Eye Institute and provides critical primary, advanced and rehabilitative eye and vision care to thousands of New Yorkers each year at the University Eye Center and elsewhere in the community. 

“The work that we do at the College educating future health care practitioners and vision scientists, engaging in research and providing unmatched care to thousands of children and adults in our community is something that we’re very proud of,” said President Heath. “It’s important for Senator Hoylman and our other representatives in Albany and elsewhere to see firsthand the impact that we have and to recognize also that our institution is a vital resource for information related to health care issues and policy.”

December 4, 2013

Q&A: Dr. Kathryn Richdale on Clinical Research at the College

Dr. Kathryn RichdaleDr. Kathryn Richdale, an assistant professor at SUNY Optometry, is the director of the Clinical Vision Research Center (CVRC) . Here she answers a few questions about the CVRC and the important role that clinical research plays at the College


Tell us, what is the Clinical Vision Research Center, when was it established at the College and what is its goal?

The CVRC was established at the College in February 2013. The primary goal of the CVRC is to provide the necessary infrastructure to allow the conduct of sponsored clinical research in eye and vision care.

How does the CVRC work in conjunction with the University Eye Center and the College to accomplish their goals?

The College, the University Eye Center (UEC) and the CVRC work together to accomplish many greater goals. Through the establishment of the CVRC, the College helps faculty to conduct research in their area of expertise, but the CVRC also supports the students and patients at SUNY. For example, teaching students about the practice of evidence based medicine is one of the missions of the College, and the CVRC provides opportunities for students to learn about the latest clinical studies and gain hands-on experience conducting research.  

In addition, our doctors in the UEC strive to provide the best care and treatment options for their patients – and this now includes the ability to refer patients to clinical studies in the CVRC.

Also, the studies at the CVRC often provide services free of charge, pay patients for their time or offer treatments not otherwise available at a general eye care provider’s office. Together, we’re providing better services to those who work, study or are cared for at our institution.  

You do your research in conjunction with corporate and nonprofit entities. Do you find developing relationships with organizations outside of higher education to be particularly helpful?

The understanding of eye and vision problems and the safe and careful development of new treatments can be a very time consuming and expensive process. At the College and UEC, we have some of the best and brightest clinicians and researchers in the field, but it's only through our industry, private and government partners that we are able to gain the necessary financial support and materials, such as new drugs or devices, to carry out our clinical research. Working with these partners allows us to bring cutting-edge diagnosis and treatment options directly to our patients.

What are your biggest challenges when trying to conduct effective clinical research?

Successful clinical research requires a massive team effort and we’re only as strong as our weakest link. We rely on our sponsors for support, our doctors to communicate with patients about clinical research opportunities, our patients to volunteer as study participants and our clinical research team to provide the best care for our study patients. This past year has been a growing process as we’ve learned how to work together in the best interest of our institution, our patients and the greater optometric community. We’ve come a long way in a short time, but our biggest challenge currently is the recruitment of patients from the UEC’s busy and bustling clinic. 

In your estimation, why is a clinical research program so important for an institution like the SUNY College of Optometry?

Without a doubt, the best health care and teaching facilities in the world are the ones that are actively engaging in research.  Participating in research keeps clinicians at the forefront of their field; making them better teachers and care givers.  Offering research opportunities attracts new patients who recognize the institution for its expertise and its ability to provide the latest health care options. Providing a strong clinical research graduate program attracts more knowledgeable and skilled students. In short, clinical research is the foundation upon which better patient care and education are built.


To find out about the CVRC's latest research programs click here.

November 14, 2013

Doctors Share Advice, Wisdom with Students at Networking Event

It was an evening of collaboration and collegiality when two students clubs, the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) and the Student Optometric Association for Private Practice (SOAPP), joined forces with SUNY Optometry’s Career Development Center (CDC) to host the inaugural “Networking with the Doctors Social.” Both student clubs and the CDC have been working hard to engage students in meaningful activities designed to help them better understand their career options and lead them to professional fulfillment and success.

Fifteen doctors and more than 50 students took part in a “speed dating” activity intended to showcase doctors from a wide variety of practice modes and specialties, each of whom had followed a unique career path. The goal was to help students gain a broader knowledge of the professional options that will be available to them once they graduate.

During the program, a small group of students spent several minutes engaging directly with each doctor. This enabled each of the students the opportunity to ask each doctor specific questions related to his or her career path. Doctors rotated among each of the small groups in order to speak with and field questions from all of the students.

“The Networking with the Doctors Social was a perfect way for students to ask their burning questions and get perspectives from a diverse group of doctors in a condensed period of time,” explained Lina Cawog, a Class of 2016 OD student.

SUNY Optometry’s CDC has put a particularly strong emphasis on exposing students as early as possible to a variety of optometric career options, and providing them with a better understanding of what will be available to them once they leave the College. The recently launched Family of Mentors program as well as the annual Career Symposium, both produced by the CDC, give students a critical opportunity to connect and learn from their soon-to-be professional peers. The Networking with the Doctors Social hopes to build on this important theme and provide students with even more opportunities to learn from professionals.

“There was a buzz in the air. You could see the engagement from both the students and the doctors as wisdom was being passed from one generation of doctors to the next,” said Francisco Lucio, director of career development and minority enrichment at SUNY.

The program was capped by a reception where doctors and students could continue their conversations and make even deeper networking connections.

“The event brought students into contact with doctors from a variety of practice modalities,” Jenny Soo Hoo, president of SOAPP, said. “Students had the opportunity to strengthen their networking skills while also learning from each doctor's personal experiences.”

The Networking with the Doctors Social, which is expected to be an annual event, was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Allergan. 

November 6, 2013

Gund Foundation Renews Grant for General Operating Support

The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation has renewed its support for the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) by providing another $10,000 grant that will be used for general operating expenses.  This is the fifth year in a row that the Gund Foundation has thrown its support behind the OCNY.

Gordon Gund, who along with his wife Llura, operate the foundation, received an honorary degree from the College in 2008. Last year Mr. Gund, who is a businessman and philanthropists as well as an artist, donated an original sculpture to the College that is currently on display in the Center for Student Life and Learning on the third floor of the College's building. 

This generous gift will enable the OCNY to continue to support projects such as the homebound program and the Bowery project that help to provide vulnerable New Yorkers with high quality eye and vision care. In addition the OCNY helps to support the training of the next generation of knowledgeable and compassionate eye and vision care providers through scholarships, as well as assisting in the advancement of research knowledge in the field.

November 6, 2013

12th Annual Envision New York Offers Expanded Program

The Office of Continuing Professional Education held its12th Annual Envision New York conference during the weekend of October 18 - 21st and, for the first time ever, expanded the signature CE program to Friday night.



A panel discussion on "The Challenges of Healthcare Reform for the Profession of Optometry," followed by a "Meet the Exhibitors" reception where attendees and students from the College were given the opportunity to mingle with each other rounded out the Friday events. Then, from Saturday through Monday, a broad array of courses, totaling 59 CE hours in all, were offered to hundreds of optometrists from around the country. The program featured many notable SUNY faculty members and clinicians, and for the first time, also included a high-tech, diagnostic hands-on workshop. For the second consecutive year a five-hour "Low Vision Track" provided credits that could be used toward the New York State Low Vision Certification. A three-hour symposium "Genetics in Eye Care" concluded the program on Monday.

Upcoming CE programs include: The Annual SUNY Orals Day on January 26th at the College and the Annual Glaucoma Symposium on February 9th at the LaGuardia Marriott.

November 6, 2013

SUNY Wins ‘Innovation in Education’ Grant

It was recently announced that SUNY has secured a nearly $3,000 “Innovation in Education” Grant from The American Optometric Foundation (AOF).  The grant, which is provided by the AOF in collaboration with VISTAKON, and The Vision Care Institute, LLC., both divisions of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. is designed to aid recently appointed faculty in advancing their teaching skills in the areas of improving delivery of information to students, new methodologies, increasing the use of new technology in all teaching settings, and the promotion of online learning tools. A particular emphasis is given to innovative and creative projects.

The SUNY project “Optimizing Course Management Sites through the Integration of Dynamic Learning Resources” is designed to provide support to faculty in advancing their teaching skills through the utilization of new technologies in the classroom and the promotion of online learning.

SUNY plans to use the grant for quantitative and qualitative assessments that will measure learning outcomes and student reaction to the learning tools. In addition, there are plans to facilitate a faculty development workshop as a model for other courses and share the findings and results for consideration of publication in the Journal of Optometric Education.

The grant was conceived and written by Ms. Elaine Wells, Ms. Jill Locascio, the library director and assistant librarian respectively, as well as Ms. Jean Pak, academic programs coordinator, in conjunction with faculty member Dr. Kathryn Richdale.