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Volume 68, Issue 117, Monday, March 24, 2003


College eyes student vision

By Bernardo Fallas
News Reporter

The UH College of Optometry is reminding students, faculty and staff of the importance of periodic eye examinations and eye care by offering free vision screenings Monday through Thursday.

The college has held similar activities in the past, but the participation from the student body has been minimal. The organizers are hoping to attract more students this time by holding the screenings in the University Center and the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

Dr. Nancy George, a visiting associate professor with the college, will be one of the doctors administering the screenings, along with professionally trained optometry students. She notes that by "talking to people, listening to their symptoms, we can tell if (the symptoms) are eye and vision related." 

Symptoms that may signal vision difficulty include squinting, sitting too close to the computer monitor or television and having to cover one eye to see more clearly. The most common symptom many people suffer is a headache after extended periods of reading. 

George noted that the screenings should not be confused with a comprehensive eye examination. The screenings consist of observing the optic nerve, macula and other structures in the back of the eye. They are limited assessments of the overall health of the eye and should be viewed as pre-exams. 

George said the screenings aid the doctor and optometry students in sorting out which patients require more in-depth study. A complete eye examination, one of many services the college provides at its University Eye Institute, is more thorough and includes dilating the pupil. 

"Looking through a non-dilated pupil is like looking at a room though the key hole of a door, and looking through a dilated pupil is as clear as having that door open," George said. 

The most common finding an eye examination yields in college-age students is a retinal degeneration, a condition best described as having a thinned area of the retina. Retinal degeneration tends to be a precursor to more complex problems. Less common, but more serious conditions that are diagnosed include glaucoma, a blinding disease characterized by the development of tunnel vision that is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, and myopia or near-sightedness.

"It is not uncommon for people in college to develop myopia," cited Dr. George.

The screenings will be held Monday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the University Center. Screenings will also be held at the Recreation Center on Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Students, faculty and staff are urged to stop by to make use of the service and not wait until a problem develops to see an eye doctor.

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