News Story

NSUOCO faculty, residents volunteer at Special Olympics

(Tahlequah, Okla.)--To promote quality eye care among Special Olympics athletes, volunteers from the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry recently participated in the Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes section of the Special Olympics Summer Games in Stillwater.

Each year the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians in partnership with the American Optometric Association proactively promotes quality eye care for people with intellectual disabilities. The mission of the Open Eyes program is to provide quality vision and eye health care to Special Olympics athletes. Any athlete failing the screening receives a complete eye exam on site. Athletes are referred for additional care for conditions that cannot be treated on site. Dress glasses and sport goggles are fabricated on site and given to athletes free of charge.

Dr. Wes DeRosier and Dr. Heidi Thoden, NSUOCO faculty, are the Oklahoma Clinical Directors of Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes (SOLCIOE). They initiated the annual Opening Eyes event at the Oklahoma Summer Games in 2003 and have since coordinated over 2,800 vision examinations for Special Olympics athletes. The 2012 games resulted in 401 athletes who received vision care at the Opening Eyes vision program. All athletes received prescription glasses, sports glasses or sunglasses and 58 athletes were referred for additional care.

The 125 volunteers who manned the various stations were made up of 36 optometric physicians, 33 optometry students, 19 Lions Club members and 38 technicians/opticians, eight of whom are full-time staff at NSUOCO.

“SOLCIOE screenings are an invaluable learning and growing experience," said DeRosier. "Not only is it a unique opportunity to meet hundreds of Special Olympics athletes, but it also permanently alters views and attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities.”

Most of the participating faculty, students and staff were returning volunteers.

Participating NSUOCO faculty included Drs. DeRosier and Thoden, and Drs. Alissa Proctor, Alan McKee, Sarah Gallagher, David Lewerentz, Christopher McDaniels, Latricia Pack, Ryan Fenska, Michelle Welch, Bryan Young, and Jackie Burress.

Also participating were part-time faculty Drs. Hank Van Veen, Jason Ellen, Ralph Latimer and Monte Harrell. Post-doctoral residents participating included Drs. Christopher Nannini, Aaron McNulty and Stephanie Cooper. 

Published: 6/7/2012 12:03:53 PM

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