Come for the Course, Stay for the Castles

You did it! You survived first year!

Now what? You have the entire summer free to do whatever you want, so now is great time to cross seeing Germany off your bucket list. Every summer, The Rosenberg School of Optometry, in conjunction with the UIW study abroad program, hosts a 10-day trip to Heidelberg, Germany.

UIWRSO is the only optometry program that offers a study-abroad experience, and this trip is exclusively available to students who just completed their first year. In Germany, optometry students complete their Public Health course, normally taken in 3rd year. The course is instructed by Dr. Foutch, a UIWRSO professor. Taking this course, unlike taking other summer courses, does not cost extra- it is already covered by tuition as if you were taking it your third year. Your only out-of-pocket expenses are travel fees, and of course tours in Germany!

Even better, you don’t have any limitations on what you do before and after the 10-day trip. You can start saving money now and plan an extra trip before or after Germany. This past year, my friends and I spent two days in France before departing to Germany. After, we visited Italy, and Spain. With good planning, options are limitless!

The trip begins in Germany with a traditional German welcome dinner at one of the local restaurants. For those of you wondering, there are plenty of vegetarian options available. Then, you take the scenic route back to your housing. Housing is a brisk 15 minute walk from the main shopping plaza and is provided by the dorm-style rooms at the European Study Center (ESC) in Heidelberg. The building makes you feel like you are a local. It was once home to a German family and resembles typical German living conditions. There is a kitchen available on each floor that is available for use by the students as well as a laundry room. The first floor of the ESC is where you’ll report for your Public Health course. The class meets once a day, and classes range from 1-2 hours, depending on the tour scheduled for that day. Additionally, the evening always has free time scheduled.

Be prepared to walk! When I say you’ll be living like a local, I mean it. German streets are full of locals who either walk or bike to their destinations and you will too. At the beginning of the trip, you will be taken on a tour of the vicinity. On the tour you will be shown where to go to get groceries, shop, eat, send packages or take out money. Everything is primarily walking distance, however, you will also have access to the bus system. You will also be given a crash course in German culture and language to be better acclimated.

Tours are scheduled frequently and include trips to the Heidelberg castle, as well as other cities such as Ladenberg, Speyer, Schwetzingen, Neckarsteinach, Allen, and Frankfurt. Other tours include a visit to the Carl Zeiss Optics Museum, Schwetzingen gardens, as well as a boat tour.

On your free time you can explore the town (it is very safe at night), go shopping at the shopping strip, eat lots of gelato, listen to live music, try out new bakeries and restaurants, and even hike one of the tallest peaks of Heidelberg, which was my personal favorite.

The course concludes with a farewell dinner on a boat on the beautiful Neckar River.

The Germany Study Abroad program is a perfect way to wrap up your first year and the best way to take advantage of your last free summer. I guarantee if you ask anyone who went they will say it was the best decision they made- I know it was mine.

Vision First

“Vision First”, that was the theme for World Sight Day 2019. Taking place on the second Thursday of October, World Sight Day is a global event that shines a light on blindness and vision impairment. Every year, Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH) plans one of the largest events to raise funds for this foundation.

The event, titled “Dining in the Dark” takes the challenge of vision impairment and serves it on a dinner plate, literally. It is a unique sensory awareness experience that gives guests a first-hand glimpse into the lives of those with low vision. Guests are invited to attend a formal dinner where the entire culinary experience will be in the dark. As dinner is served, guests put on blindfolds and the lights are turned off in order to experience navigating a simple meal with no vision.

The event takes place in the top floor of the Rosenberg Sky Room located at the University of the Incarnate Word Broadway campus. Before putting their blindfold on, guests can enjoy the magnificent skyline view of Downtown San Antonio, listen to live music, and participate in a silent auction.

This opportunity is open to RSO students, faculty, family, and the public. The servers for the night consist of optometry students; this year, I was one of them. After I helped serve the dinner, which consisted of a side salad, lasagna, and garlic bread, I walked around the tables I was assigned to and assisted with anything the guests needed. Some requests included helping someone find their water, or their fork. My personal favorite task, however, was confirming to one guest that he did, in fact, finish all his food.

The event had live music, brought to you by “The Spectacles,” a band made up of RSO faculty and family, a silent auction, and a raffle. Over 150 tickets were sold with 100% of ticket proceeds being donated to Optometry Giving Sight (OGS).

This year, SVOSH raised over over $5,000 for OGS.

Carolyn Smith, 2019 SVOSH President, shares:

“With a mission designed to inspire the development of ’caring and compassionate health care providers’, I believe we here at RSO have a unique niche. Dining in the Dark is not just a fundraiser, but an opportunity to bring the RSO community together in recognition of World Sight Day- a day dedicated to raising awareness for the blind and visually impaired”.

There is no better example of community and service than Dining in the Dark and those who helped make it possible.

A huge congratulations goes to the SVOSH team for the impact they have made in many lives. We are so proud to play a part in the progress being made.

“Restoring sight can turn a life of poverty, into a life of opportunity. For many people, that’s vision for life.”

-Optometry Giving Sight

Students prepare to serve blindfolded guests

Faculty Achieve Professional Milestone at Academy

The UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry reached another milestone this October at the American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting in Seattle, WA.  It was announced that three faculty members at RSO were accepted as Fellows into the Academy.  The three new Academy fellows were announced as: Dr. Chandra Mickles, Dr. Kyle Sandberg, and Dr. Matt Valdes.

Dr. Chandra Mickles, O.D., M.S.
Dr. Chandra Mickles, O.D., M.S.

Dr. Kyle Sandberg O.D.
Dr. Kyle Sandberg O.D.

Dr. Matt Sin Valdes O.D.
Dr. Matt Sin Valdes O.D.








These individuals successfully completed the rigorous process of obtaining Academy Fellowship by preparing Patient Case Reports that each doctor has personally examined and treated.  “I had to prepare 2 case studies (one paper and 1 poster).  I also presented a poster on a pediatric vision screening study that I conducted.  The Academy requires that a total of 50 points are accumulated in order to be eligible for Fellowship.  In my case, I received 20 for completing a residency, 10 for each case report and 10 for the study poster,” Dr. Kyle Sandberg explained.

These reports are peer reviewed by the Admissions Committee for quality and standard of care.  If the doctor passes this portion of the examination process, they are invited to the annual meeting where they undergo a comprehensive oral examination.

As Dr. Sandra Mickles describes, “I qualified to sit for the oral examination through submitting one case report, two scientific posters based on my research, and my residency credentials.  There was a panel of the three optometrists that examined me orally, based on my credentials and written work submitted for earning the fellowship.”

Drs. Mickles, Sandberg and Valdes have reflected great credit upon themselves and the entire University of the Incarnate Word community.  “Fellowship means a great deal to me, personally and professionally.  Working in a teaching institution, it is imperative our students and patients know we strive to provide the highest level of patient care.  Despite the time and effort required for fellowship, it’s encouraging to know I’m helping support RSO’s culture of excellence,” said Dr. Matt Valdes.

They have achieved a professional milestone which only a small number of the optometrists around the world have succeeded at doing.  We congratulate them and thank them for their hard work and dedication to the profession.

UIW Faculty Accept Check To Promote East Side Development

walmart gift(Pictured L-R) Dr. Charles Connor, professor, Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO); Dr. Tina Lopez. assistant professor, Feik School of Pharmacy (FSOP); Mabel Goldsmith, Walmart store manager; Ivy Taylor, councilwoman, City of San Antonio – District 2; Terri Murphy-Sanchez, St. Philip’s College; and Dr. Arcelia Johnson-Fannin, founding dean of FSOP; accept a check for $75,000 from the Walmart Foundation on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the UIW Health Fair held at St. Philip’s College School of Health Professions. The grant will help fund health fairs, promote interprofessional education and to serve the Eastside community of San Antonio. The interprofessional education includes faculty and students from UIW optometry (Dr. Charles Connor), UIW nutrition (Dr. Joseph Bonilla), UIW nursing (Cynthia Richardson, Yvonne Davila), UIW pharmacy (Dr. Vanessa Phillips, Dr. Tina Lopez), St. Philip’s nursing (Melissa Arthur), and St. Philip’s medical laboratory (Terri Murphy-Sanchez).

source The Word E-News

UIW’s Rosenberg School of Optometry teams with NISD to provide Eye Examinations to Students

NISD students get help picking out their new glasses from UIW RSO staff.
NISD students get help picking out their new glasses from UIW RSO staff.

San Antonio – On Monday, April 29 and Wednesday, May 1, UIW’s Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) teamed up with Northside Independent School District (NISD) to provide free eye exams to 60 pre-selected students between the ages of 5 and 9 years who failed their school vision screenings.  These children either did not have vision insurance or the ability to pay for comprehensive eye care. UIWRSO optometry students, under the direction of UIWRSO clinic faculty, provided free eye examinations and the Essilor Vision Foundation provided free frames and lenses.

The students arrived in two groups and quickly made their way through the examination process.  The students were just a little nervous as this was the first eye exam for many of them.  Once they completed the exam they were able to pick out their new glasses.

“This affiliation between the UIWRSO, the NISD, and the Essilor Vision Foundation has made a significant impact in the quality of life of 120 children living in San Antonio. We look forward to conducting examination days at least one day a month in the future. I expect that these examination days to provide the underserved children of San Antonio well over $100,000 worth of free eye care, spectacles, and other forms of treatment annually. Not only does this improve the quality of life of the children receiving the care, we hope that the resultant clear and comfortable vision will improve their performance in school which ultimately provides dividends to the entire community. The UIWRSO is committed to serving the San Antonio community and it is an important value that we instill in all of our students and interns,” said Dr. James Chapman, UIWRSO clinic director.

UIWRSO, NISD, and the Essilor Vision Foundation have formed an affiliation to identify NISD students who require vision care, provide the professional examinations, and then to provide treatment through glasses or whatever modality that is best for the patient.

The UIW Eye Institute is one of seven patient care clinics operated by the Rosenberg School of Optometry. It provides specialty care in its Adult Care, Contact Lens, Ocular Disease, Pediatric, Low Vision, and Vision Therapy Services.  UIWRSO administers a four-year graduate program following a four-year undergraduate degree leading to the Doctor of Optometry degree.


Margaret Garcia
Associate Director of Public Relations
University of the Incarnate Word
Office: (210) 805-3689