Giving Back One Vision Screening at a Time

Within my first few months of school it was very easy to notice my classmates and I all had one dream: to help those in need and give back to our community. As a first year student at RSO, I did not expect to be given an opportunity to do such so early in the program. After just 28 days from the beginning of classes, I found myself inside a small dim room at a San Antonio church located in the heart of downtown.

This would mark the day of my first vision screening. I was scared and timid at first but my fellow students (second and third years) reassured me that everything I had been learning in my Basic Optometry course was going to be put to good use that night. As soon as the patients started to arrive, my peers and I were continuously busy. From measuring pupil size to testing visual acuity, as a first year student with only a month of school under my belt, I was able to help so much!

There are many organizations and clubs on campus that provide students with hands on experiences through vision screenings. I highly encourage many of my classmates who still haven’t attended a vision screening to do so ASAP. It is a such a great reminder of why we study and work so hard to do well in the classroom. These vision screenings provide us with a real world application of everything we have been learning from the textbook, and it doesn’t get much better than that!

As an RSO student, we are reminded of UIW’s core values, especially one in particular: service. From the first day of orientation, we were prompted to be mindful of our community and give back as much as possible. As students of community engagement, we complete a service learning project within our curriculum, consisting of at least 16 service hours by the end of our third year. My classmates, as well as myself, truly understand how important these moments are. Not only are we fulfilling the mission of UIW, but we are also improving the lives of so many community members.

Pictured below are first-year students and instructor Dr. Narayanan, who volunteered at the 2016 BAPS Charities Health Fair. Which is a day that provides a wide array of health screenings and blood testing for community members.



You too can fulfill your dreams of giving back to the community through vision screenings within just one month of beginning your career as an optometry student at UIWRSO!

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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More than a Health Fair

The Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair is put on by the Catholic Charities, Archdioses of San Antonio, Inc. The UIWRSO vision screening took place during the fair on Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 9am-1pm. Free services included: eye exams, Diabetes, blood, and cholesterol screenings, kidney health screenings, mammography screenings, drug consultation, and ask a doctor/nurse.

All the volunteers loaded into the school van and we put all our equipment in the back. We drove to the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church at 1819 Nevada Street, San Antonio, TX. The church was right in the middle of a residential area and most of the people in the neighborhood attending the health fair also go to church there as well. It was a festive environment with music and food in the air. Zumba was danced outside while we started setting up inside the church. The staff was extremely helpful and provided us with extra tables and space!

To optometry students, a health fair is usually time to work a vision screening, but on this occasion I had some time before the fair to walk around and talk to the other providers participating.

The dentists and dental hygienists perform free teeth cleanings for the community.  I got a goodie bag from them with toothpaste and toothbrush inside, woohoo! The nurses performed mammography screenings and demonstrated proper techniques for a self-exam. Some of the optometry students got their fingers pricked to check their cholesterol and sugar levels.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Cynthia Nguyen, Assistant Professor at the UIW Feik School of Pharmacy. The volunteers at the pharmacy table educated the attendees about the drug labels and different types of drugs media, for example, you must shake suspensions drugs (vigorously), while solutions do not require shaking. This reminded me of class and I remembered how some patients do not shake their glaucoma suspension eye drops enough; hence, they do not get the therapeutic dosage until the end of the bottle.

It is always amazing how a simple vision screening can keep so many people healthy!

It is at these fairs that I learn more and more about other health professions and only then can I further appreciate their work. I also feel more confident in whom to refer my future patients to, because I know more about their scope of practice. I also talked optometry to the other providers and educated them on the benefits of a screening versus a full eye exam.  I hope that through our communication at small health fairs, like this one, can lead to a better and integrative health system.

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Photos courtesy of Linh Phan

School Lately…

Us at Kona Grill
At Kona Grill. From left to right: Nandi (Anjli Jasrotia’s little sister from Dallas); Riddhi Desai, ’16; Me (Neda Esmaeili) ’15; Diana Truong, ’15; Anjli Jasrotia, ’15.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of my classmates and I went to a nearby restaurant called Kona Grill. It is located in this really nice outdoor shopping mall called La Cantera. They have a happy hour menu that includes yummy appetizers and dishes for amazing prices–perfect for a student budget!

This year, UIWRSO started this program called Big Sib’ Lil Sib’ which arranges us with first year students so we can help them out with questions and someone who is familiar with the school and the city.

I decided to invite my Lil Sib Riddhi Desai out with us so I could get to know her better and help her bond with some other people at our school. It turned out to be lots of fun. I always love an intimate gathering with great food…not to mention the great shopping!

So exciting!

Recently, I got to dilate a classmates eye and of course, the same was done to me. It is really cool how much better we can see the back of the eye with a slit lamp biomicroscope when the pupils are enlarged. This is how my eye looks when only one eye is dilated:


o_O. Literally.
o_O. Literally.


Another really cool thing we did today was help out at a vision screening. Vision screenings are mandatory as second years here at UIWRSO. It prepares us for dealing with real-life patients and is a precursor to working in the clinic as an intern.

We were at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School and we screened 8th graders. They are super adorable by the way! I was excited to put a few of the skills I have learned in lab to good use and help out.


At this weeks vision screening. Left to right: Neha Jhawar, '15; Samantha Giang, 15'.
At this weeks vision screening. Left to right: Neha Jhawar, ’15; Samantha Giang, 15′.


The vision screening.
The vision screening.


Neda Esmaeili
Class of 2015