News Releases

April 12, 2005

Emory Eye Center staff assists in nationwide eye screening for glaucoma

(ATLANTA) Emory Eye Center professionals are assisting Emory School of Medicine (SOM) third- and fourth-year students to administer 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. Those patients needing follow-up will be seen at Grady Hospital's eye clinic.

Maria Aaron, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center and Susan Primo, OD, MPH, director of Vision & Optical Services at Emory Eye Center are the leads on the project, funded by a Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma Foundation grant that enables the program at Emory University School of Medicine (SOM). SOM 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. At Emory, fourth-year medical student Vincent Gills has coordinated the Atlanta project.

"Since glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, particularly for African Americans, Atlanta is a perfect location to perform screenings," says Dr. Aaron. "Vincent Gills and the Student Sight Savers Organization 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 which 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," says Dr. Primo. "Vince Gills is to be commended for his industriousness and hard work in securing this grant for Emory."

Emory's first free glaucoma screening took place on Saturday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Butler Park Recreation Center with Paul Larson, COMT (certified ophthalmic medical technologist), and Ken Rosengren, OD, who provided their professional assistance and guidance to Emory's SOM students, who coordinated the program.

"I am very happy that the grant has been allotted by the Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma Caucus Foundation Inc.," says Vincent Gills. "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. The Student Sight Savers program provides opportunities for both these objectives. This program also gives students clinical exposure to the field of ophthalmology. With the help of Maria Aaron MD, Susan Primo, OD, Ken Rosengren, OD, and Paul Larson, COMT, this program has been great success. We look forward more opportunities to work with the dedicated faculty at the Emory Eye Center."

For more information on the Sights Savers Programs, go to: http://www.glaucomacongress.org/sssp.asp

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell, jbell@emory.edu, 404-778-3711

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