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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.

UAB Giving Day, which is May 11- 12, invites alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends to support projects from all corners of campus and make a difference.

UAB Eye Care, which is the School‘s primary clinical operation, provides vision screenings and complete eye exams to low-income patients through Community Eye Care.

When an area of need is identified, Community Eye Care sets up a mobile clinic staffed by faculty, residents and students. Patients can receive a complete eye exam at these clinics, but if a disease such as glaucoma or retinopathy is suspected, the patient must go elsewhere for a follow-up exam and a diagnosis. For patients who live in rural areas or who have limited resources or transportation, this may not be possible.

A portable OCT imaging system, which costs about $50,000, will allow the School to better care for Alabama’s most vulnerable communities.

“A portable OCT will allow for early diagnosis and aid in management decisions for a variety of retinal conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration,” says Elizabeth Steele, O.D. the School’s associate dean for Clinical Affairs. “These conditions are often more common in the remote settings of our community outreach clinics.”

Comprehensive eye care is provided through mobile clinics at the Foundry in Bessemer, Alabama, the Lovelady Center in the East Lake neighborhood of Birmingham, M-Power Ministries in Birmingham’s Avondale community, and the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham Adult Day Program at LincPoint in Homewood.

Complete eye exams are also provided at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Alabama. With the high disease population of patients at this location, a portable optical coherence tomography imaging system would have a great impact on the quality of care received, says Steele.

“Many patients we serve there are being followed for glaucoma, in particular, as well as genetic eye disease,” Steele says. “These conditions and others can be more carefully monitored with the addition of an OCT.”

Community Eye Care also works with UAB and other Alabama partners to identify areas in the Black Belt where eye care is needed. On weekends, students and faculty travel to an area of need, set up a mobile clinic and provide complete eye exams at a low cost according to income of individual patients.

In 2016, Community Eye Care provided 1,424 complete eye exams for lower income or underinsured patients in clinics throughout Birmingham, Alabama, and in rural parts of the state.

Click here to make a gift to Community Eye Care or to the School’s annual fund.