En Visioning Success

There’s no doubt about it: optometry school is a stressful place, and students deal with this stress in different ways. Personally, I like to walk my newly adopted dog, listen and dance to music (even though I look silly doing so), and cook several times a week. Those activities allow me to clear my head and focus on something else that is important to me for just a little while. I have always appreciated the support available at RSO from students, faculty, and staff and I recently discovered a new resource.  This week, I was able to attend a stress management workshop that all second year students get to participate in. At the workshop entitled “En Visioning Success,” we were introduced to the counselors from the UIW main campus who taught us techniques that we could use to help manage our stress.

First, we were able to share with our classmates techniques we have used recently to help relieve stress. Some included cooking, playing with their pets, Netflix, taking a nap, and even bizarrely enough, someone said they use studying as a stress reliever! It was great to hear other suggestions from students who are going through the same exact stress; maybe what works for them, will also work for me. We were then asked us to stand up and spread out around the room. Mr. Keith Tucker introduced us to techniques using martial arts with the combination of moving our whole bodies and speaking aloud, “YES!” We felt instantly energized. Next, pieces of paper with different aromatic oils were passed around.The counselors told us that relaxing smells could help relieve stress. My favorite was the peppermint oil. Soon thereafter, we took a “Stress Test” to give ourselves an idea of how well we currently manage our stress. See how you score below!

We all know coloring as a kid is fun. As an adult? Even better. I would highly recommend coloring mandalas on a regular basis. Most people were upset that they didn’t have time to finish coloring during the workshop. The counselors told us that using small repetitive motions (like the ones used for coloring) while being mindful of what you need to focus on can help you clear out all other information and be relaxing at the same time. Try coloring your own mandala!

We learned about the power of something called a “vision board” which can help you to visualize your goals. Putting pictures of what you want to succeed at or things you have already succeeded at, can help put you in the place of mind you want to be. Post-it notes are a great motivator as well. Writing things such as “You can do it!” or “I’m not perfect, and that’s okay” and seeing it in a familiar spot such as a mirror or window can really perk you up when you’re having a stressful day. Here are examples of my own post-it notes.

We also learned how to “refocus” during tests. You simply put your finger under your nose as if you’re telling someone “shhhh!” While holding your finger there, breathe in and out slowly and focus on the breaths. Even 30 seconds can refocus your mind and bring you back to where you need to be while taking a test. Muscle relaxation techniques are also very useful. I saw everyone come out of that workshop with smiling faces, and many told me afterwards that it did, in fact, help them reduce stress. I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more de-stressing techniques. Not only will they help me get through optometry school a little easier, but I can foresee myself using them for the rest of my life. For now, I have some coloring to get back to.

Aromatic Oils Mandala Stress TestPost-It Notes En Visioning Success Workshop

AOA InfantSEE Event at UIWRSO

Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele
Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele

On Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:00 pm, UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry hosted an AOA InfantSEE Event in the UIW Rosenberg Sky Room. Dr. Maki, UIWRSO Professor, and Mrs. Benne, UIWRSO Assistant Dean, have worked hard to plan a wonderful evening with Dr. Steele and Tom Sullivan. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness for InfantSEE:

InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.  Read more about InfantSEE here.

Dr. Wingert started off the event with the Dean’s Welcome and left the crowd wanting to hear more about the program. He then passed the microphone to Dr. Steele, AKA Dr. Bubba of Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Dr. Steele’s lecture presentation almost reminded me of class. I really liked how he used case examples of  how an optometrist helped the pediatric patients via the InfantSEE program, in fact, we learned of how the program saved lives. Dr. Glen Steele, OD, FCOVD, FAAO is the current chair of the AOA’s InfantSEE program; his passion for raising awareness is so strong that he travels to multiple optometry school to speak about the InfantSEE program. With his strong educational background and southern humor, I truly enjoyed his message and took it to heart.

After Dr. Steele gave a warm introduction to InfantSEE, he brought Tom Sullivan on stage. He was blind since shortly after birth, but Tom

Mr. Tom Sullivan
Mr. Tom Sullivan

is an award winning actor, author and composer dedicated to spreading a message of hope and inspiration for overcoming adversity. He created a hilarious motivational program for the optometry students or as he calls us “Young Future Doctors;” He taught as to nurture our passion for optometry and the importance of public health initiatives such as the InfantSEE program. Mr. Sullivan shared his childhood, his ups and downs, but what I took away most was understanding the stigma that a blind person faces everyday. I went into optometry wanting to help people with their vision, but it wasn’t until this night that I understood the amount of impact that a pediatric eye exam can have. I was motivated and the passion he brought to stage resonated with the audience as they roared with laughter or listened in silence. Never have a heard a speaker, sing, cry, scream, and educate so well; It was an unforgettable night!

The event ended with a dessert reception. Dr. Steele and Mr. Tom Sullivan walked around the reception to talk to the students and faculty of UIWRSO. It was a great event that was made possible by UIWRSO in collaboration with Allergan and the AOA (American Optometric Association).

3 Classes That Made a BIG Difference In My Patient Care Education

I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, where I was exposed to the “Chicano culture” at an early age. When I was in middle school, I would often visit my friend’s house after school. Her mom would only speak to me in Spanish and that forced me to learn the language really quick! However, I didn’t just learn words, she taught me the culture, and how to be “polite” in the family. To this day, I thank Mrs. Muñoz. She really helped me understand that communication is more than just through words, it’s a culture connected by heritage.

When I’m at a vision screening with Spanish speaking patients, I get really excited! I see it as an opportunity for me to put myself out there and try to make the eye exam as comfortable as possible for the patient. Sometimes when I look around at the non-Spanish speaking volunteers, I sense their discomfort from not knowing the “right” word in Spanish. I can’t help but think that the uncertainty in one’s voice could make the patient feel even more uncomfortable. To me, excellent patient care is through open communication and communication is only half verbal. Body language, posture, eye contact, all play a key part in excellent patient care!

Spanish for optometrists

There are three classes at UIWRSO that really helped me work with the non-English speaking populations.

Dr. James Chapman is faculty at UIWRSO and a man of many hats, but as a first year intern we were introduced to him as our Healthcare System and Communications professor. He asked if anyone in the class of 2016 knew what anthropology was – there wasn’t a big response. I majored in Anthropology in my undergrad. Dr. Chapman’s class Healthcare System/Communications to me was a mini crash course in cultural/social/linguistic anthropology. Students who never took a course may have thought “well isn’t this ‘obvious’ to treat patients a certain way?” Yes and no – there are international students, interns from across the nation and across different socioeconomic classes. This course really taught us to value excellent optometric patient care while respecting different cultural backgrounds.

The Orientation/Optometry/Ethics is a 1 unit course that was unique because we had guest speakers come talk about multiple subjects like compassion, justice, ethics and topics that I feel no other school will touch upon. Mrs. Kristine Benne is our lead instructor for this course and is also part of the Student Affairs team. The accreditation council dubbed UIWRSO’s Student Affairs office one of the best in the nation and I second that! She invited a philosophy professor, a nun, a politician, and leaders to give interactive lectures; although interns may or may not agree with the speakers’ point of view, I always enjoyed trying to understand their perspective and make sure that I treat different opinions with the utmost respect.

UIWRSO also offers an elective course called “Spanish for Optometrists” that is taught by Dr. Amalia Mondriguez and she is probably the sweetest lady I have ever met! Her smiles never end and her lessons were really effective in teaching Spanish. I liked how she always had something new planned to stimulate a different part of the brain and correlated it with the Spanish language. We had multiple icebreakers, played Bingo, performed skits, sang songs, and much more. She was also the Spanish teacher for our pharmacy school, so we learned some extra vocabulary in terms of common drugs and usage. UIWRSO currently only offers Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in the summer, so the first years who went to break missed this opportunity, but the ones that stayed received an extensive Spanish vocab book and a new-found confidence communicating to Spanish-only speakers.

Dr. Mondriguez

I am glad my school always makes interns go above and beyond and take extra classes that others may think as “unimportant” from the clinical point-of-view.  When I have a patient in my chair I will always remember what these classes taught me!

Dua’s Layer, A New Discovery in the Human Eye

Scientist and physicians have discovered everything there is to know about the body, right? Wrong!

We only have hypotheses about how most of the human anatomy works.  This makes the practice of being a Doctor quite tricky. As technology advances we are able to see smaller and smaller aspects which comprise our human bodies and this helps us understand the physiology. Recently new research has brought us one step closer to understanding the human eye.  Dr. Harminder Dua, a Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Nottingham, has discovered a sixth layer to the cornea, appropriately named, Dua’s layer.

cornea layersThe cornea is the clear part of the front of your eye.  It allows light to pass through the eye to the retina, located at the back of your eye, which constitutes sight.  Until recently, the cornea has been thought to be made up of 5 layers.  The epithelium, the front most part of the eye bathed in our tears.  Bowman’s layer, lying just behind the epithelium, provides support.  The stroma, which comprises a majority of the cornea, offers strength and resilience.

Next, behind the stroma, lies Descemet’s membrane, which separates the stroma from the endothelium. Lastly, the endothelium helps keep the right amount of water in the cornea.  Now, the entire thickness of the cornea is on average 550 microns, which in lay terms is about half of a millimeter.  That is very thin!  Approximately 5 pieces of printer paper stacked on top of each other.

Dua’s layer, fits snuggly between Descemet’s layer and the endothelium, coming in at only 15 microns thick.  This new layer is thin and very resilient, and possibly contributes to some problems that occur after cataract surgery.

The picture below was taken at the UIW Eye Institute in San Antonio, TX.  It shows a section of the cornea, so we can evaluate its thickness and curvature.


This is just one aspect of optometry that makes it a challenging but rewarding career.  As new research is released optometrist have to learn and incorporate these findings into their practice to provide the highest level of patient care.  Never stop at what your professors say or what your books read, there is always something more to learn or discover!

To read the entire article, please follow the link below:



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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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