Memphis Downtowner January/February 2018 : Page 6

A Vision for the Future Mission: to lead the profession by educating the best possible healthcare providers; promoting lifelong learning; and fostering a personal commitment to service. here are only 23 schools of optometry in the United States and since 1932 Memphis has been home to one of the nation’s leading ones —Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Optometry is the field of healthcare that includes not only the performance of refractive eye examinations and the fitting of necessary corrective lenses or vision therapy, but also the diagnosis and treatment of numerous ocular diseases. After completing a 4-year graduate program, students at SCO receive the degree of Doctor of Optometry (OD). SCO has educated more than 6,000 optometrists from all 50 states and several foreign countries. Their students consistently outscore the national average in board scores and graduation rates. The college is committed to academic excellence and cutting-edge clinical training. In 1953, SCO moved to its current location at 1245 Madison, which was later expanded to include a campus of new administrative offices, classrooms and a library. The 1970s brought further expansion into its current structure, which houses multimedia classrooms, laboratories, faculty/administrative offices, the library, a student center, and a computer learning resource center. Recently, the college finished construction on a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation program that included new state-of-the-art classrooms, study spaces, and new labs. T The Eye Center opened in 2002 and gave students and faculty the opportunity to learn and practice optometry in one of the largest and most clinically advanced vision and eye care centers in the country. The 46,000-square-foot freestanding eye and vision center now serves up to 60,000 patients annually. There are 70 fully equipped examination rooms, 14 individual spaces for advanced technology-based testing, a retinal laser center, a digital angiography center, a full service optical, and on-site ophthalmology services. Last fall, SCO opened FocalPoint, a unique, first-of-its-kind “clinic of the future” that provides the latest in patient engagement and inter-professional education in Crosstown Concourse. FocalPoint is one of only 12 locations in the U.S. offering customizable eyewear through HOYA’s Yuniku system, which uses 3-D scanning to create eyewear that uniquely fits each individual’s facial characteristics. Southern College of Optometry embraces the idea that optometry is a service-oriented profession. Its clinical presence has meaning for the greater Memphis community and students benefit from hands-on learning as they accompany faculty on community outreach initiatives at school vision screenings and regional healthcare settings. SCO students even travel abroad to take eye care to those in need around the globe. Their proud tradition of leadership and service in Memphis provides more than $1.8 million worth of charitable care to the community each year. Through initiatives like “I Care for Kids,” SCO ensures that children who need vision care do not have to go without it because their families cannot afford it. Early intervention and fighting for human potential has changed lives. Since 80% of learning is done visually, an early intervention with a child’s vision can change the trajectory of their life. One young patient in vision therapy, though diagnosed with ADD, has drastically improved her focus and grades in school. After vision therapy, she went from 2 D’s and an F to making the honor roll each year. SCO helps children see and achieve their full potential. Faculty and staff have often described the incandescent joy on a child’s face when they slip on a pair of glasses and discover an entirely new world. President Dr. Lewis Reich shares an example. “When one of our Kindergarten students received glasses for the first time, the young girl exclaimed, ‘I can finally see the words on the page!’ This young child was not able to effectively participate for the first two months of school because she could not see to read. Her encounter with SCO changed her life.” There are many examples of young children whose lives and educational opportunities have been improved through SCO’s work. For more information, visit 6 DOWNTOWNER MAGAZINE | January/February 2018

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