Service to Community

by Satina Richardson


In its seventh year, the Gift of Sight is the UAB School of Optometry’s biggest giving event. Organizers were determined to hold the event despite the COVID-19 pandemic and were able to provide free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to 227 low-income and underinsured patients.

By Janene Sims, OD, PhD, UAB School of Optometry associate professor

The year 2020 has had many challenges: racial injustice, police brutality, and COVID-19. Late summer gave us a glimmer of hope. Deaths due to the coronavirus are on the decline. Schools and businesses are slowly reopening. The US economy is trying to rebound. Professional sports are back in action. Universities and businesses are having important conversations regarding race and inequities. Just when you think that things are beginning to improve, we have another shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mr. Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. This outraged the citizens of Kenosha, so many took to the streets in protest.

By Satina Richardson

Our community and nation are confronting the ugly truth of our long legacy of systemic racial injustice after the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others who have suffered and died due to prejudice and racial injustice in America. In response, the UAB School of Optometry has launched EyeCare4Justice.

The UAB School of Optometry began treating patients in Alabama’s Black Belt communities through a formally organized program in 2002. Since then, more than 13,000 patients in this underserved area of the state have received access to care from the school’s vision scientists, doctors, and students. 

By Tyra Rocker

For the fifth year, the UAB School of Optometry provided free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to nearly 200 Birmingham residents at the 2019 Gift of Sight event held at UAB Eye Care’s Western Health Center location, December 3-6.

Early detection by comprehensive, dilated examination is a great way to identify current or potential vision problems to assure infants’ eyes are healthy and their vision is properly developing.

The 2019 Helen Keller Art Show of Alabama reception will be held on Sunday, January 27th, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI).  The art show will be on display at BCRI until February 28th and throughout the state at ten museums during 2019.

During the fifth annual Gift of Sight event, the clinical operation of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Optometry — UAB Eye Care— served nearly 300 patients throughout the four-day event, including caring for its 1,000th patient in the event’s tenure.

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The UAB SVOSH trip team — including 11 students, three doctors and two School of Optometry clinical staff — provided comprehensive eye exams to 500 Panamanian people in four days. The group also gave out more than 1,200 pairs of eyeglasses and made almost 80 referrals for a variety of ocular disease conditions.

Kim Duong with student patients.

Kim Duong, OD, MS, is no stranger to community service. The clinical assistant professor at the UAB School of Optometry has worked with children with Type 1 diabetes, provided vision screenings at volunteer events, and works with young girls in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, where she moved in July 2017 to join the School of Optometry faculty.

A student with the UAB School of Optometry examines a patient during the 2017 Gift of Sight event. Altogether, 260 patients received free eye care over four days.

The UAB School of Optometry and the Jefferson County Department of Health partnered for the fourth consecutive year to bring free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to low-income and underinsured Birmingham residents.

Altogether, 260 patients were seen during the Gift of Sight event, which was held Nov. 29 - Dec. 2 at the Western Health Center in Midfield, Alabama, and at UAB Eye Care, the School of Optometry’s clinical operation. Some patients will return for follow-up appointments for retina, glaucoma and specialty contact lenses, says Janene Sims, O.D., associate professor at the School of Optometry.

Graphic for UAB Dry Eye Relief Clinic

A new clinic at UAB Eye Care is providing a specialized approach to treating dry eye disease.

The Dry Eye Relief Clinic offers the full scope of treatment services for the common disorder that occurs when tears aren’t able to provide enough lubrication for the eyes.

UAB Giving Day graphic for 2017

The UAB School of Optometry wants to increase the scope of care it provides to the Birmingham metro area and to underserved communities throughout the state and the region. As UAB Giving Day 2017 approaches, one of the School’s priorities is supporting Community Eye Care with the purchase of a portable optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging system.

Patient smiling during the Gift of Sight event.

By Christie Brown

Almost 300 underserved individuals from the Birmingham area received eye exams and glasses at no cost as part of the UAB School of Optometry’s Gift of Sight event that took place December 2-5, 2015.