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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Academics & Research

Optometry college hosts only on-site surgery center in nation

UH College of Optometry ranks among the top 10 in the nation. | File Photo

UH College of Optometry ranks among the top 10 in the nation. | File photo

The University’s College of Optometry is the only optometry school in the nation with an on-site surgery center.

The college, which ranks among the top 10 optometry schools in the nation, is an ambulatory surgical center owned and operated by the college, and grants students unique opportunities to grow in the field. 

“We needed an environment where we could provide those educational experiences for our students, and to also service our alumni base and the Greater Houston community by providing them a really quality upscale surgery site,” said associate dean of the surgery center Marc Piccolo. 

The surgical center offers cataract surgery, cornea transplant, entropion and ectropion surgery, glaucoma procedures, oculoplasty, pterygium surgery, refractive lensectomy and retinal detachment.

Optometrists from all over can refer a patient to the center. Meanwhile, students and professionals will have the opportunity to provide care for the patient. 

These surgeries happening in-house give students the ability to work one-on-one with patients. This works in similar ways to the real world.

“Our students really needed to have an educational experience around pre-operative care, because optometrists perform both pre-operative work and post-operative work,” Piccolo said. 

Along with participating in procedures, optometry students are able to engage in cutting-edge research to better understand the mechanisms of the human eye, as well as find strategies to combat visual impairment and blindness.

“We’re an educational institution. So our prime objective is to make sure that our students have hands-on experiences, and we’re the only one that does that,” Piccolo said.

“Now, that’s not to say that other schools and colleges can’t rotate their students outside, but we feel that having control of the surgery center gives us the ability to provide a more unique and more full experience for our own students.”

The surgery center and optometry school dons many high honors and awards for the work they provide to their patients. The company the surgical site uses sends questionnaires to the patients to get feedback as well.

“We were recently recognized within the top 10 percent in the United States with patient satisfaction. So we were pretty happy about that,” Piccolo said. “We really want to give them a top rate experience.”

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