Guide Dogs of Texas

IMG_0111_FotorThe Low Vision and Rehabilitation Club, a student organization at RSO, invited its members to a tour of the Guide Dogs of Texas last week.  The Guide Dogs of Texas is a not-for-profit organization that provides quality guide dogs to Texans who are visually impaired to increase the client’s freedom, mobility, and independence.

During the one-hour tour, we got to hear from three different clients about their visual impairment and success stories with guide dogs, and we also got to meet all of the clients’ guide dogs, including one named Cody.  Two staff members and one of the clients, who also served as a volunteer for the organization, gave us a tour of the grounds and facilities.  We were able to tour the kennel, which at the moment housed several guide dogs, including Duncan, and tour the residential training facility, where clients stay for a few weeks to receive training with their matched guide dogs.  We also got to watch Cosmo, another guide dog, navigate a staff member down a walkway with set obstacles to the staff member’s desired destination, in the same fashion as he would with a client in the client’s daily life.

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The tour allowed me to learn more about the advantages, requirements, and limitations of having a guide dog.  Advantages included increased freedom, mobility, and independence for the client.  Some requirements included being legally blind and being capable of caring for the guide dog.  A limitation was that the client had to know how to get to certain destinations (a client must know how many blocks and in which direction the restaurant is away from home) because guide dogs do not initially know that information.  I also learned about several fun volunteer opportunities available with the organization, including puppy raising, puppy sitting, and visiting the kennel to play with the guide dogs, which all sound like dream volunteer opportunities for dog lovers.

If you would like to support Guide Dogs of Texas, there are several ways to donate:

  • Participate in The Big Give S.A., a 24-hour day of giving, on May 6, 2014 and make a minimum online donation of $10 to Guide Dogs of Texas.
  • Make an online donation directly on the Guide Dogs of Texas website.
  • Shop online at AmazonSmile, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Guide Dogs of Texas.
  • Apply for the Guide Dogs of Texas Capital One Visa Card, and Guide Dogs of Texas will receive $50 after your first purchase, 2% donation on gas and grocery purchases, and 1% donation on all other purchases.

A Night in Old San Antonio

It’s Fiesta month!

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Fiesta began in 1891 as a one-parade event in San Antonio, and today, it consists of many festivals, events, and parades taking place around the city over a couple of weeks.  Fiesta is a celebration of San Antonio’s myriad of cultures and commemoration of historic heroes.  This year, Fiesta events lasted from April 10th to April 27th.

One of the most popular Fiesta events is A Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA).  NIOSA is a four-day event that takes place in the downtown village of La Villita, which has fifteen cultural areas that represent the early immigrants that settled in the San Antonio area.  Each cultural area provides unique food, drinks, entertainment, and goods specific to the culture.

NIOSA is always a spectacular sight to see.  There are crowds of people wearing elaborate hats and headbands, and there are brightly-colored wreaths and decorations everywhere.  Cascarones (confetti-filled eggshells) are also sold throughout the event area, and people typically break the cascarones over people’s heads in good-spirited fun.

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There is a variety of food and drinks to choose from, too, and some popular choices include the preparada, a fruit cocktail with chamoy, chili lime, and fresh fruits, and Mr. Chicken’s skewered fried chicken with a jalapeño.

Overall, there are over 100 Fiesta events that take place each April.  Attending the events is a great way to enjoy yourself, learn something about the history of San Antonio, and help raise money for different local organizations.

Transitions Optical World Headquarters

IMG_9872_FotorLast fall semester, I applied for the 2013 Transitions Students of Vision Scholarship by submitting a short story about volunteering optometric services to the “Share Your Impact” contest through the Transitions Students of Vision Scholarship Facebook App.  I was notified at the beginning of this spring semester that I was one of ten grand prize winners from more than forty-five applicants.  I was very excited to win the scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip (roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and meals) to the Transitions Optical World Headquarters near Tampa, Florida.

Of the ten grand prize winners, six other optometry and opticianry students and I were able to attend the trip this past week.  We stayed at a hotel on North Redington Beach, and we started off the trip with a meet and greet dinner with some of the Transitions staff members and the students.  The next morning, we traveled to the Transitions Optical World Headquarters and had a day of leadership training and education.  The first presentation was about “Creating Remarkable Patient Experiences.”  I found the presentation very helpful because it provided great advice on how to provide the best quality patient experiences.  Next, we received a tour of the Transitions Optical facility.  After that, we participated in a StrengthsFinder exercise where we discussed our strengths.  Prior to the trip, we were instructed to complete the StrengthsFinder assessment, which provided us with a guide of our top five “themes” or strengths.  The discussion allowed us to identify our dominant strengths and learn how to maximize and develop our strengths and recognize strengths in others.

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Of course, we also learned a lot about the Transitions family of products and participated in hands-on experiments with the different products.  We learned about their latest product, Transitions Signature, and other products, such as Transitions Vantage, XTRActive, and Drivewear.  We also got to compare different products, such as Transitions Signature vs. Transitions VI and Transitions gray lenses vs. Transitions brown lenses.  In addition, the students were paired up and assigned a case scenario where we had to select the best lenses for the patient.  I found the presentation on the Transitions products to be very helpful, especially with the information provided on how to educate patients about Transitions lenses and present them with the different options available.

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A bonus at the end of the day was getting to go to their on-site optical and selecting a free pair of frames and Transitions lenses and getting headshot photos taken by a photographer.  The trip ended with a great dinner with the Transitions staff members and the students, and we even got a little bit of free time for ourselves to do anything we wanted the next morning and afternoon before we had to depart for our flights.

This trip definitely exceeded my expectations, and it was one of my favorite trips so far during optometry school.  As always, I encourage everyone to take advantage of every scholarship opportunity available.  You only have to spend a little bit of time to complete the application requirements, but you can be rewarded with so much.

Vision Screening at Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair

IMG_9761_FotorLast weekend, six other students and I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair to provide vision screenings to attendees.  Student volunteers were recruited by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) school chapter.

The fair also had volunteers from the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy.  The pharmacists provided helpful items to organize medication lists, samples of pill containers, and education on differences between ingredients used by compounding pharmacies, among other things.

In addition, several other organizations provided dental screenings and products and blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol measurements.  The vision screenings provided the students opportunities to use their clinical skills in a setting outside of lab or practice hours.

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For several of the students, it was their first time performing clinical skills on a patient that was not their classmate, and it was even the first time for many to see cataracts.

Vision screenings are great opportunities to provide services to the local community, especially to many who may not get any type of eye or vision care otherwise.  I highly encourage all students, whether you’re a first year or fourth year, to volunteer at vision screenings as often as you can.  It is wonderful community service, and you can also hone your clinical skills while volunteering.

Accreditation Celebration – Slideshow

Last week, RSO faculty, staff, and students celebrated the school’s accreditation with dinner, drinks, and a champagne toast.  The school’s inaugural class was admitted in fall 2009 and graduated in May 2013.  The event allowed us to celebrate and share our accomplishments over the past five years, and everyone is looking forward to celebrating more successes in the future.

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Accreditation StatusThe University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry has been granted the accreditation classification of “Accredited” effective March 20, 2013 by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association.  The classification of “Accredited” indicates that the program generally meets the ACOE standards for accreditation.  The Council finds RSO to be in full compliance with all of the ACOE standards.