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

Dining in the Dark

“Dining in the Dark” is an annual event that UIWRSO’s student chapter of SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) hosts in order to fundraise for the World Sight Day Challenge. This is a global campaign run by Optometry Giving Sight, a charity who hopes to help the more than 600 million people worldwide who are blind or vision impaired because they do not have access to an eye exam or glasses. 100 percent of the proceeds that came from this event went directly to this campaign, which is why it is such an important event for UIWRSO.

The room was beautifully decorated, and at each table there was a little blindfold in front of each plate, which we used to cover our eyes to simulate eating as a visually impaired or blind person. Everyone found their seats and volunteers to the event served drinks and bread. Nicole Fee, president of the RSO SVOSH chapter, gave a presentation about what World Sight Day is and how Dining in the Dark helps to benefit Optometry Giving Sight.


There were also two guest speakers, Ricky Ruzicka, and Jose Martinez from Lighthouse for the Blind. Both of these speakers talked about their experience with their visual impairment. Ricky has Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, which he was not diagnosed with until his early twenties, and Jose has a form of Retinitis Pigmentosa, something he was born with. Both of these speakers gave us great insight to what it is like to have a visual impairment, whether you are born with it or develop it later in life. They gave us great information about what kind of devices and services are available to people with blindness. They also answered several questions about their daily lives, such as what kind of programs are available for them in school or how they learned how to ride the bus.


Next, the eating began! The food was catered by Carraba’s Italian Grill. Eating pasta and salad might be easy when you have sight, but when that is taken away, it is definitely a challenge! Everyone was instructed to put on their blindfolds and eat their meal as they normally would. The lights were also turned off at this point. I definitely had to rely on my other senses, especially touch, to find what I was looking for. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be! After taking off the blindfold, I could see a lot of food around my plate; I guess I am not the best at this!

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At the same time, a silent auction was happening close-by, which was also used to raise money for Optometry Giving Sight. Some of the items up for auction (which were generously donated) included a LASIK procedure provided by Dr. Parkhurst and Nuvision, a new iPad Air, designer sunglasses, and vouchers for our own UIWRSO optical. SVOSH also raised money by having a raffle, giving away items such as a Keurig and gift cards.

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This was a fantastic event to attend. Not only did SVOSH raise a huge amount of money for this wonderful charity, I also got to see students, faculty, and friends coming together to participate and have fun in something they believe in, helping others through the gift of sight.

AOSA Activities Fair

One thing I’m really proud about our school is that our students are very involved. Although we are considered one of the newer optometry schools, the students took initiative to start their own clubs and reach out to optometry associations to start local chapters at our school. For example, our chapter of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) is the largest student chapter in the nation. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) at RSO have fundraised thousands of dollars to help a child in need of an comprehensive eye exam. SVOSH at UIWRSO, the student branch of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) have traveled to South America and Africa. We have over 17 student organizations and each of them bring opportunities for students to become leaders and learn more about the different niches in Optometry! Personally, I am a great supporter of the Private Practice Club, who have invited speakers from all around San Antonio, Texas, and the nation to come speak to our students about Practice management.

The American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) is one of the most active clubs at our school. Every year, AOSA conducts the first event of the fall semester, the Activities fair. The Activities Fair is the place to learn more about AOSA, its affiliated organizations, and all the different clubs that are offered for students at RSO. It is also the easiest place to sign up for organizations that interest the students.

The fair was located in UIWRSO events room, from 1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m and featured a guest speaker, Mike Elton, a representative from HOYA.

This year, AOSA offered complimentary ice cream and multiple raffles including gift certificates, a floating trip in New Braunfels, and an iPad Air (sponsored by HOYA). Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff, AOSA Trustee/Trustee elect. respectively, did an amazing job coordinating the event. It was a huge success and a lot of the first year optometry students were able to learn about the school’s activities, events, and student leaders.

Susan Ly

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Dining in the Dark

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SVOSH at RSO lead the World Sight Day Challenge, Dinner in the Dark, which raised over $2500 to represent RSO in this year’s fundraiser. All proceeds went directly to Optometry Giving Sight (OGS). This is a nationwide event where RSO is competing with the other optometry schools to raise the most money!

This school-wide event had helping hands from Students, Faculty, Sponsors (UIWRSO Student government Association, NuVision, HOYA, and Marchon ), Student Org contributors (SVA, AOSA, SVOSH and LVR), Dr. Rai for representing OGS with her presentation, and Student Affairs (Mrs. Benne, Mrs. Macias and team).


There was a silent auction where attendees can write down their bid for donated items from sponsors.


LASIK procedure fromNuVision (valued at $5000)

iPadfrom Hoya

4 pairs of sunglasses from Luxottica


Tickets were $10 for students, $15 for everyone else. Tickets include a salad, garlic bread, chicken parmesan (or pasta primavera for our vegetarians) dessert and drinks catered by Luciano’s Italian Ristorante. Meal will be served by RSO students, so all guests experienced a meal while wearing a blindfold to simulate the loss of sight.


Susan Ly

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As part of my Contact Lens (CL) Society officer duties, I got to organize a Multifocal Contact Lens Fitting Workshop about 2 weeks ago. As a future practitioner, my goal is to get my hands on different types of contact lens fittings. This event made me realize how much I already knew about CL’s and provided me with lots of confidence about CL’s.

Overall, the event was made successful by all the CL officers, CL manufacturer & sponsors, such as the STAPLE (Soft Toric And Presbyopic Lens Education) program, all society members and lastly patients. The event was planned and patients were requested to come in months in advance. All the patients were very supportive and encouraging to the student body. Dr. Long Tran came as a guest speaker and gave us some inside tips about Multifocal Contact Lenses.

I got to work with two different patients on that day in the exact same way as patients are seen in an actual clinic for fitting their lenses. STAPLE’s organizers made it more fun by taking a personal interest to diversify this experience and divided patients in terms of their refractive errors. If patients like their fit, they got to try it for free. This way, it benefited patients and students at the same time. A few of RSO’s own faculty members came in to support the 3rd and 4th years participating on the weekend. The event ended with a delicious lunch from Panera Bread, courtesy of CL manufacturers!


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On the same day, I got to work with the Student Volunteers for Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH) organized screening at a BAPS temple. The BAPS charities health fair was a huge event and benefited more than 300 people overall. The screenings provided were multidisciplinary in a way that there were pharmacist, MDs, ODs and technicians. I got to socialize with other healthcare professionals and got to know how different professions function together.

Since the screening was open to all age groups, it was quite a diversified experience. I got the opportunity to examine quite a few eye conditions even though it was just a screening such as PVD, Asteroid Hyalosis. I earned the satisfaction of helping people and provide education & guidance as needed. As I was among a very few bilingual interns for that day and it was a great experience overall. I must say that the organizers welcomed us with all their hearts and so much respect. The organizers distributed volunteer certificates to all of us and provided the authentic Indian food towards the end.