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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.”