Emory Report
April 25, 2005
Volume 58, Number 28


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April 25, 2005
Med students, Eye Center partner for glaucoma screening

BY Joy bell

Eye Center professionals are assisting School of Medicine (SOM) third- and fourth-year students in administering the Student Sight Savers Program, a national program to help screen for glaucoma. The screening is at no cost for the patient.

Those at risk for developing glaucoma include African Americans over 35 years of age and persons with diabetes. The screening includes optic nerve assessment, pressure check and visual field assessment. Any patients needing follow-up will be seen at Grady Hospital’s eye clinic.

Maria Aaron, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center, and Susan Primo, the center’s director of vision and optical services, are the leads on the project, funded by a Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma Foundation grant. Medical students identify and target at-risk individuals in Fulton and DeKalb counties, screen them for glaucoma, and provide for follow-up and education. Some 33 schools of medicine across the country are participating in this program. Emory fourth-year medical student Vincent Gills has coordinated the Atlanta effort.

“Since glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, particularly for African Americans, Atlanta is a perfect location to perform screenings,” Aaron said. “[The students in] the Student Sight Savers program have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to an extremely rewarding project. Their efforts will prevent blindness in a number of glaucoma patients.”

“The Student Sight Savers program is an incredibly important project that not only has a tremendous public health impact for the citizens of metro Atlanta, but it also provides yet another vehicle for medical students to get involved in community service, especially those interested in ophthalmology,” Primo said.

Emory held its first free glaucoma screening on Saturday, April 9, at the Butler Park Recreation Center with Eye Center professionals Paul Larson and Ken Rosengren, who assisted the SOM students who coordinated the program.

“As with many students in the School of Medicine, my primary reason for pursuing medicine is to give back to my community and pursue academic curiosity,” Gills said. “The Student Sight Savers program provides opportunities for both these objectives. This program also gives students clinical exposure to the field of ophthalmology. We look forward to more opportunities to work with the faculty at the Emory Eye Center.”

For more information on the Sight Savers Programs, visit www.glaucomacongress.org/sssp.asp.