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.

“The Gift of Sight is the heart of UABSO,” said Scelelar Jefferson, clinical coordinator for Community Eye Care. “It takes what’s learned in the classroom, practiced in the clinics and applies a touch of love and understanding for those who struggle to make it through life’s journey.”

The four-day event saw patients with a variety of ocular conditions, including retinal hemorrhaging and swelling due to a fall, retinoschisis, macular degeneration, diplopia from multiple sclerosis, strabismus, optic nerve head drusen and lattice.

Some patients are new to the annual event and others, like Victoria White, return for follow up appointments. At Gift of Sight in 2018, White learned that she had sickle cell retinopathy, a representation of the sickle cell disease in the eye.

Doctors at the event immediately referred White to an ophthalmologist who has performed two laser surgeries in order to save her vision. She eventually also received a sickle cell disease diagnosis.

“This is why comprehensive eye care is so important,” Janene Sims, OD, PhD, Community Eye Care director and associate professor at the UAB School of Optometry said. “We may not know that something is there until we perform the eye exam.”

The 2019 Gift of Sight was sponsored by Allergan, Vision Service Plan, Milo’s, Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps and Alabama Lions Sight. The event is coordinated by Community Eye Care service, a department within the UAB School of Optometry that provides vision screenings and comprehensive eye care to various groups of all ages across the Birmingham metro area and throughout the state.