AZCOPT Students Provide Free Eye Care for Resettling Refugees

Optometry students and members of SVOSH assisted VOSH in giving eyecare to about 185 refugees from Afghanistan, Latin America, Ukraine, and several parts of Africa.

  • AZ - Glendale
Optometry students pose for a group photo outside the Community Foundation building.

Top row left to right: Ben Malmanger (AZCOPT 鈥26), Cenza Alfaro (AZCOPT 鈥26), Nathan Coy (AZCOPT 鈥25), Josh Huynh (AZCOPT 鈥25), Ian Ostler (AZCOPT 鈥25), Harshpreet Ballagan (AZCOPT 鈥25). Bottom row left to right: Nieves Solis (AZCOPT 鈥25), Aracelis Aguiar (AZCOPT 鈥26), Emily Hansen (AZCOPT 鈥26), Grace Petrykowski (AZCOPT 鈥26), Allison Lewandowski (AZCOPT 鈥26), Rachel Pi帽a (AZCOPT 鈥26).

P站视频 a dozen P站视频 students from the Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) and members of the University chapter of Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH) assisted close to 185 refugees from Afghanistan, Latin America, Ukraine, and several parts of Africa with their eye care last fall. The students were joined by six optometrists and two opticians from the Arizona chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) to provide full, comprehensive eye exams and sunglasses as well as eyeglasses. The optometry team also checked their new patients for several conditions including glaucoma, and offered referrals for eye surgery if needed.

An important part of the entire process was addressing language barriers. Six language translators assisted the team to help communicate in Arabic, Dari, French, Russian, and Ukrainian, and online flyers were made available in Arabic, Dari, English, Pashto, Spanish, Swahili, and Ukrainian. 

Optometry student and president of the University chapter of SVOSH Nieves Solis (AZCOPT 鈥25) was very moved by the experience: 鈥淚 feel like the refugees are so appreciative,鈥 she shared. 鈥淭his gave me a different outlook on optometric care. As a student, you get caught up in classes and how repetitive things can be. With this kind of patient care opportunity, you remember why you鈥檙e doing this, to take care of people. Some patients never had an eye exam. They were extremely grateful. There were also patients that were apprehensive because they didn鈥檛 understand dilation drops or the machines they were sitting in.鈥 Nieves added, 鈥淓vents like this are definitely the reason I want to be a healthcare professional. After I graduate, I want to be a part of VOSH on the state and international level. I learn these skills for the greater good. Just because someone can鈥檛 afford eye care, it doesn鈥檛 mean they don't need care. When refugees come here, I want to make them feel welcome. It might just be an eye exam, but it鈥檚 a nice gesture and it can really help them in the long run.鈥 She also said one of the biggest reasons she chose to study at P站视频 was the SVOSH program. 

鈥淚t鈥檚 very important that P站视频 makes even more of an effort to do events like this. It鈥檚 a good opportunity for the students to learn more. Once they graduate, The University is putting good doctors into the world with real life experience with other people and cultures. This is something the University should be proud of,鈥 Nieves said.

Nieves also encourages fellow students to participate. 鈥淵ou can really make a huge difference in one day. You further your knowledge and it is very enriching for sure.鈥

Assisting refugees with eye care is one of many opportunities at P站视频 for community service, which is central to the values held at the University. P站视频 offers Doctor of Optometry degree programs in Downers Grove and Glendale. 

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