John J. Abbott, R.Ph., Friends of the Congressional
Glaucoma Caucus Foundation; Thomas Quinn, O.D.; Scott Strickler,
M.D.; Zane Lazer, M.D.; Susan Quinn, O.D.; Thomas Littler, O.D.; Jon
Mesarch, O.D.; Jack Brose, D.O., dean of Ohio University College of
Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM); and Wayne Carlsen, D.O., OU-COM
associate professor of geriatrics. Susan and Thomas Quinn, Strickler,
Lazer, Littler, Mesarch, and Carlsen are physicians and optometrists
who will be participating in the Student Sight Savers Program
starting this November.
Glaucoma screening program will be
a sight saver for Southeastern Ohio
by Kevin M.
Dec. 19, 2007
On Nov. 30, the Student Sight Savers
Program (SSSP) came to Southeastern Ohio. The program, which
provides free glaucoma screenings, is open to all, but particularly
reaches out to underserved, underinsured and uninsured patients.
Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (OU-COM) Community
Health Programs will administer SSSP, which uses medical students
under the supervision of local optometrists and ophthalmologists to
conduct the screenings. SSSP is funded by the Friends of the
Congressional Glaucoma Caucus Foundation.
The program will serve this
community well, says Kathy Trace, R.N., director of
Community Health Programs.
“One doctor in the community told me
that he, not infrequently, gets patients who when they come to see
him are already legally blind,” says Trace.
“Glaucoma is a preventable cause of
blindness, but if untreated leads to blindness. There are too many
people who don’t regularly see eye doctors because they can’t afford
it or don’t think it’s necessary.”
Coordinating the work students and
physicians for SSSP will be Susan Quinn, O.D., who serves on Athens
city/county health boards and has practiced in Athens for more than
24 years. Quinn says that area optometrists and ophthalmologists
have responded very positively to participating in the program.
Twenty-two of the 24 she contacted agreed to do so, she says.
Medical students will benefit, says
Quinn, by working with optometrists and ophthalmologists and by
providing hands-on care for the community.
“Glaucoma has no early symptoms, so
people may have the disease and not know it. It’s a chronic disease,
and if it’s diagnosed, patients need to be seen regularly. They need
regular testing to make sure the disease is well controlled.
Sometimes they need surgery,” she says.
Patients who need medical help
beyond the scope of SSSP will be referred for follow up care, says
Quinn and Trace.
“There are resources that allow us
to send them to providers in the area to get the proper care,” says
One of those resources is Prevent
Blindness Ohio, says Trace. Prevent Blindness Ohio is a voluntary
vision health and safety organization dedicated to the prevention of
“Prevent Blindness Ohio will help
link to providers and help pay medical bills,” she says.
Although SSSP screens primarily for
glaucoma, about 10 percent of those screened are referred for other
eye problems, says John J. Abbott, R.Ph., a consultant and member of
the board of directors of the Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma
Abbott recommended OU-COM for
inclusion in the program. More than 40 other medicals schools across
the nation have Student Sight Saver Programs.
“We want to throw as wide a net as
possible for our screenings,” says Abbott. “No one is denied
screenings no matter what their income level is.”
“SSSP,” says Quinn, “is a great
public health initiative.”
To learn more about SSSP, contact
Community Health Programs at (740) 593-2432.