Patients Teach Students about Optometric Vision Therapy over Skype!

I use Skype to chat with my friends from Los Angeles to Anchorage!

I’d tell them all about San Antonio and of course my exciting adventures at RSO! It wasn’t until I became the RSO student chapter President that I conducted a professional Skype Presentation/meeting.  To my surprise, I didn’t feel a barrier between the speaker and me.  The audience listened and were captivated by the speaker on the large projector and laughed at all their jokes. I’ve only heard about Skype interviews and webinars being quick and  fun, but now I also see how cost effective and interactive they can be!

Here are some tips for your next Skype Event!

Steps to take before any Skype Meeting:

  1. Have an alternative contact with the speaker, cellphone is best.
  2. Get a webcam! make sure the microphone, and camera is working. I try calling my friends on Skype to test out the webcam. Make sure the webcam can face the audience and still pick up your voice.
  3. Have a portable microphone, so the audience can ask questions and the speaker can hear them.
  4. Maintain a steady internet connection. I would use a LAN line rather than WIFI, but this depends on your network.
  5. Run a test prior to meeting. I find myself usually doing 2 test runs. Something can go wrong with the first test run, for example, my speaker was not installed properly or the other party can’t hear me. At the second test run we usually have a successful connection, I write down the camera, audio, speaker, and microphone settings.

The COVD student chapter had 2 Skype speakers this year.

On October 10, 2013, Dr. Sue Barry gave an interactive presentation in the evening. We had nearly the entire school come and hear this amazing speaker talk about her journey of regaining stereopsis via optometric vision therapy. “Dubbed ‘Stereo Sue’ by neurologist Oliver Sacks in a New Yorker article by that name, Sue Barry has gone on to write her own book Fixing My Gaze which describes the astonishing experience of gaining 3D stereovision after a lifetime of seeing in only two dimensions. Intensive vision therapy created new neural connections, and with them, a new view of the world. Challenging conventional wisdom that the brain is programmed for life during a critical period in childhood, Barry offers a poignant and revelatory account of our capacity for change.” (Source,

On November 15, 2013, Mrs. Robin Benoit, author of “Jillian’s Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daughter’s Life” and “Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed My Life Too,”  visited UIWRSO for a second time.  Last year, she and her daughter, Jillian, were here in person.

In her books, she details the life-changing journeys of her daughter, Jillian, and 22 other vision therapy patients.  Although vision therapy helped Jillian overcome struggles with amblyopia, which is described in “Jillian’s Story,” she is proud to share, in her new book, the stories of those with autism, traumatic brain injury, stroke, anxiety, polyneuritis and vision problems such as strabismus and convergence insufficiency.

Robin and Jillian have made presentations to 17 optometry colleges in the United States.  UIWRSO is the only one to be visited twice!

Jillian couldn’t join us on this occasion because of school, but wanted to remind us of this:

—  “You may not offer vision therapy in your practice when you graduate, but please know what it is and what it can do.  You hold the key to changing someone’s life in your hand.”

I did not undergo vision therapy, but the meetings have helped me understand what a VT patient feels. I learned something that clinic cannot teach me! I hope after viewing the clips you find something positive to take away from these phenomenal speakers! Stereo Sue and Jillian’s Story are part of the Optometrists Change Lives™ program from OEP Foundation and HOYA Vision Care. OEP also offers other programs such as King-Devick (which is in person) and Going Blind (which is a film screening) as well as speakers on special topics.

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Finals Week

Alas, the dreaded finals week is upon us! We all know it will happen and some of us choose to ignore the fact that it will occur after every semester of school, regardless of if we want it to or not. Some students look forward to finals because it means the end of the semester, and there is a break very near. Others dread finals for the obvious reasons. Whether or not you like taking finals, they are a fact of life, so we must carry on. books

In optometry school, you will no doubt have 6 or 7 finals after every semester, and maybe a few lab finals as well until your third year, where clinic becomes a vast majority of your school day. To be honest, I still don’t know how I make it through finals week every time. I guess you just put your nose to the grind stone, and get through it. Our finals, here at UIWRSO, are set up so we have 1 per day, and on occasion 2, and they are usually in the morning. So, if you are a night owl, you can pull an all-nighter, take the test, go home and sleep for a few hours, and then do it all again. I am definitely not an “all-nighter.” Some of my friends call me a grandpa because I like to go to bed by 10:30pm, so the next day I may take a short nap after the test and then study all day, and get to bed so I can get at least 7 hours of rest. I’m sure you have all heard somebody talk about a study that has shown that people perform better when getting an adequate amount of sleep. Now, we are all adults, and know our own strategy for taking tests, so to each their own.

Well, on Friday August 2, 2013, I had my first final for this semester in Research Methodology. This class is focused on how to perform research correctly, and how to analyze the data you receive from research. We had normal class in the morning from 7:30am to 10:00am and our final was at 10:00am. It was a short 50 question comprehensive final. It was only a 1.0 credit hour class, so it was not that difficult, but a few of my other tests will be!

The weekend was full of studying. I woke up Saturday morning and studied all day. I was able to take a break Saturday night and get in some good relaxation. After church Sunday morning I was back at it, studying until the sun went down. Even after all of that studying I did not feel completely ready for my test on Monday. I had studied as much as I could, and I just had to do my best. My test on Monday was in Pathology of the Posterior Segment II. In this class you learn about many of the disease processes that can affect the back of the eye. It is difficult, but will help you clinically. The rest of my Monday was, again, filled with studying for most of the day. My test on Tuesday was in Advanced Contact Lens, and was not as difficult as my test on Monday. In Advanced Contact Lens you will learn about all the very different modes and types of contact lens. Also, you will learn to recognize contact lens related diseases and how to treat them.

Tuesday morning arrived, again, I woke up at 6:00am to prepare myself to take another grueling test. Luckily, the material in Advanced Contact Lens was not as difficult as Posterior Segment. The test came and went, just as any other tests would. My Tuesday afternoon consisted of taking a nap to rejuvenate, and then studying for Case Analysis. This class focuses on teaching you to think like a clinician. A majority of the lectures are case presentations where as a class we ask questions and determine diagnoses of many different cases. You may wonder what the final for this class will consist of, well, you will be tested over the different cases presented in class. They will provide specific information about the case and you will make the best diagnosis based on the information.

Wednesday at 6:00am I again reviewed a few lectures and prepared for my test at 7:30am! The test was a blur, like all the rest. The test coming up on Thursday, won’t be a walk in the park though, so after my test Wednesday morning, I had to hit the books hard. Thursday’s test was in Strabismus and Amblyopia, when you get to this class you will understand. This class is tough, but you will leave feeling more confident in your skills. You will learn all about eye turns/deviations and begin to learn how to recognize and how to manage these cases clinically. EyeChart

My Thursday morning was exactly like the rest. I was more nervous about this test though. It was going to be difficult, and I spent every minute that morning reviewing and trying to make sure I was ready for that test. It was a tough test, but as long as you prepare well, you will perform well. By this time there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow morning would be the last final of the summer! It was in our glaucoma course. This class is focused on the clinical aspect of glaucoma diagnosis and management. It is a very useful class. Everything you learn will apply clinically. By the time you finish the final you will have a good idea on how to diagnose and treat glaucoma. My Thursday afternoon was not as intense, I took a few hours to relax and play some racquetball. My studying on Thursday afternoon was sub-par, at best. I was able to get through all the lectures, but it was very difficult to stay focused.

Friday morning came around, and I woke up at 6:30am this morning. The glaucoma test was not easy, but it was our easiest final of the six we took. I looked over a few things Friday morning, but I was not as worried about this test. The final came and went, and I remember walking out of the test room and feeling free! It was time to get some R&R and enjoy not studying for a whole week!

Finals weeks are always the same in optometry school. They are intense, but you always find a way to get through it. You put your nose to the grind, and spend most of your waking hours of that week studying. In the end it is worth it. Receiving good grades is great, but to be honest, sometimes just passing is a relief. In the end, hard work does pay off! If you are reading this and it is your finals week, then keep your chin up, it will be over soon. If you have made it to this point then you are smart enough, just hang in there!

Andrew Yoder

I am a 3rd year intern at the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry. I was home grown in Dyersville, IA. I have a brother and sister, of which I am the youngest. My hobbies include playing ultimate frisbee, basketball, tennis, and anything else my friends want to play, and jamming out on my guitar.

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