By Roya Attarhousseini
In fall of 2009, the University of the Incarnate Word School of Optometry welcomed its inaugural class of 62 students.
Conveniently located in the San Antonio Medical Center, the UIW School of Optometry is the nation’s first and only faith-based program.
The school serves to educate and prepare future leaders in optometry through excellence in education, patient care, vision research and public service within a context of faith and personal development. In 2010, the school received a generous donation of $11.5 million from Sandra and Stanley Rosenberg for whom the school was then named after. The generous gift is significant as it is one of the largest gifts in the country ever given by a Jewish family to a Catholic institution of higher learning. Additionally, the naming of the school made it the only one named (after an individual) school of optometry in the United States.
Since opening its doors, the program has been committed to fostering academic and clinical excellence, professional growth and community outreach. The students have provided vision screening throughout the city for the elderly, children and the underserved. The school sets up weekly vision screenings and eye health exams for the economically disadvantaged and minority citizens of San Antonio. Services are provided both on and off the campus, with each location offering a wide range of clinical optometric services, comprised of comprehensive eye and vision care including refraction and dispensing, detection, diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of the conditions of the visual system.
Most recently, the school has also started to provide UIW students on its main campus with eye exams for a cost of only $15 in addition to the list of the other health services the university already provides. Students can also get glasses and contact lenses at a significantly reduced cost. The experience of providing comprehensive care for all types of patients is essential for the students’ clinical education. Currently the curriculum emphasizes early hands-on clinical care integrated with didactic course work.
The demand for eye care is projected to rise with the overall aging U.S. population as a consequence of expected age-related changes in eye health and visual status. Additionally, many states are implementing initiatives requiring vision examinations for children prior to school enrollment. And as the rate of diabetes and diabetic eye disease has risen to epidemic proportions in the U.S., the public’s need for optometric care will continue to increase in San Antonio as well as throughout the country. Graduates of the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry can look forward to a rewarding career in serving patients to retain or regain their most important human sense: sight.
E-mail Attarhousseini at firstname.lastname@example.org