Patrick Albergo, MD gave exams to local residents at MxCC's 24th Annual Community Eye Care Day on March 6.

Local patients see benefits at student-led eye care clinic

Patrick Albergo, MD, gave exams to local residents at MxCC’s 24th Annual Community Eye Care Day on March 6.

March 16, 2017 – With continued commitment to the community, Middlesex Community College Ophthalmic Design and Dispensing (OD&D) program students helped local residents in need at the college’s 24th annual Community Eye Care Day held on Monday, March 6.

Eye care patients first received ocular health assessments by ophthalmologist Patrick Albergo, MD, from the Connecticut Eye Center, which has offices in West Hartford and Avon. After the exams, a team of OD&D students then took measurements, manufactured and dispensed the eyewear, which were all prepared in the on-campus eyewear clinic.

“Vision is so important, and I am happy to come here and give back to the community,” said Dr. Albergo. “The patients we have seen today really appreciate what we are doing.”

This popular event was conceived as an ongoing community program in 1997 through the efforts of Professor Rivard. Each year, the student-led clinic provides eye exams and eyewear to area patients who could not otherwise afford these services or have no insurance.

“In Connecticut, about 5,000 people a year are not getting the eye care they need, because they are unable to pay for it. This experience shows our students that being a health care provider is not strictly measured by financial benefits. They recognize how their education provides a needed public service within their community. The benefits of this lesson should follow them throughout their career,” added Professor Rivard.

Prior to the event, student project co-coordinators Wren Hallman of Old Lyme and Leslie Amatrudo of Northford contacted several social and human services organizations in Middletown such as St. Vincent de Paul and Chrysalis Domestic Violence Services for referrals to the clinic.

“This was a very humbling experience. Middlesex Community College loves to give back, and we feel so lucky to have been given the resources to offer our skills and services to those in need,” said Wren Hallman. Leslie Amatrudo agreed, “We had a fantastic team working together to make this a huge success. Being part of this project was a great way to apply our training to a very worthwhile community event.”

During their two years of study in the OD&D program at MxCC, students train to become nationally certified and state licensed as opticians. When licensed by the state, they can design and fit people to eyewear and contact lenses based on the prescription of an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Students in MxCC’s OD&D program are training to be more than just licensed opticians. They are learning that by working together, they can make a positive impact in the world.

Precision/PrefRx Optical of East Hartford and Encore-Nikon Optical of South Windsor donated optical lenses and frames. The Connecticut Opticians Association and Sebastian Melilli of Melilli’s Café & Grill in Portland provided refreshments.