On Nov. 30, 2017, a celebration occurred at the Drews Low Vision Clinic at the St. Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired (SLSBVI). On this occasion, a reception and open house was held that allowed community optometrists and College of Optometry faculty to see an impressive facility with state-of-the-art instrumentation for working with a very important and challenging patient population.
The College was recognized by David Ekin, President of the St. Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired, who was appreciative of this important partnership. “We are so pleased and thankful for our 20-year partnership with the College of Optometry that directly impacts the lives of those with significant vision loss and helps educate future optometrists about the specialization of Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Services. As a provider of services to those who have low vision or are blind, this partnership is vitally important to helping us fulfill our mission of enhancing, empowering, and enriching the lives of those we and the University serve.”
Mr. Ekin presented Dean Larry Davis with a plaque in appreciation of the important role the College has had over the past 20 years. Dean Davis also recognized the importance of this collaboration. “The Saint Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired is an anchor institution within the St Louis area eye care community. Our relationship has proved invaluable and serves as an important inter-professional educational experience for our students.”
Believe it or not, the St. Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired is over 100 years old. What began as the Missouri Association for the Blind in 1911 has grown from a small organization to one which now serves more than 1,500 individuals of all ages annually through comprehensive Vision Rehabilitation and Special Education Services. There are no less than 21 members of their team, including their leadership team, specialists, and support staff. The Drews Low Vision Clinic has about 250 different low vision and adaptive living aids.
An important role played by the College of Optometry is the personnel, including Low Vision Specialist and UMSL graduate, Dr. Becky Lory (‘99) (see insert), and Associate Clinical Professor and Low Vision Coordinator Dr. Kate Boland (‘02). Dr. Boland expresses how important the Low Vision Service is to UMSL students: “The 20-year connection between the Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired and UMSL has been truly beneficial to both our future optometrists and the patients they serve. With the Society’s top-notch staff of professionals, including social workers, occupational therapists, low vision therapists, orientation & mobility specialists, and technology teachers, it models the perfect setting for students to see how optometry is really a collaborative profession, where all the emphasis is on putting the needs of our patients first and how optometry can continue to serve them.”