Image of Dr. Greene with EMCO Conference Attendees

Eastern Mediterranean Council of Optometry Marrakesh, Morocco 2018


On September 21 and 22, 2018, I was an invited speaker at the 2nd Annual Eastern Mediterranean Council of Optometry (EMCO) meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. While not quite located on the eastern Mediterranean, their first meeting in Beirut, Lebanon in 2016 certainly was!  I want to express my appreciation to the EMCO Scientific committee, Dr. Hassan Awada, Dr. Yazan Gamoh, and Dr. Liana Al-Labadi for their invitation.

I met optometrists and optometry students from all over the Middle East, northern Africa, India, Nepal and Bhutan. Speakers ranged from far and wide, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, Sudan, South Africa, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Topics ranged from myopia control (with Naidoo Kovin, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute), scleral contact lenses, amblyopia, ortho-keratology, pediatric eyecare, and for me, of course, low vision.  Co-sponsored by the Moroccan Council of Optometry and the World Congress of Optometry (WCO), the meeting attracted several hundred attendees.

I was asked to present three COPE approved courses—the first on treating distance vision loss, a second on understanding and treating hemianopic and tunnel vision visual field loss, and lastly a bioptic prescribing and fitting workshop. The 2-hour workshop, limited to 12 attendees was filled with energetic, enthusiastic (and young!) optometrists. We discussed how to identify promising candidates, determine the appropriate prescription, establishing a prognosis, and especially the nuts and bolts of fitting the telescopes.  Attendees played the roles of both patients and doctors and took turns fitting the Ocutech bioptics on each other.  It didn’t take long for them to see how easy it is!  We also demonstrated the new Ocutech Falcon Autofocus bioptic, which was a highlight and huge success!  Since many spoke only French and Arabic, I was ably translated and assisted by Dr. Liana Al-Labadi, a 2009 graduate of the OSU School of Optometry, who now practices in Palestine.

Dr. Greene with Hamid Nafis, chairman of EMCO 2018.

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Living Life Karina Fuentes Style: There is Always A Way of Helping.

Quick Note from the Author:
Wow! Let me just say that this is one of those stories that stuck with me; a constant reminder that the only things in life that we have control over are the choices we make for ourselves. After reading Karina Fuentes’ response to our Personal Story Questionnaire, I couldn’t wait to share her story with as many people as possible! So without further ado….

“The whole migration thing is such a struggle, it’s like we were back to zero.”

Karina was born with a visual impairment because she has Albinism. Until recently, the 22 year old lived in the Philippines where she was prescribed the Ocutech VES-Sport bioptic by her low vision specialist, Dr. Carmela Ongsiako. After finishing school two years ago, Karina and her mother migrated from the Philippines to the United States. “My Ocutech bioptic has been such a great help to me at school when I was studying.” In her home country, Karina used her bioptic and excelled in school. She attended the University of the East where she graduated with honors (Cum Laude) and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. In addition to being smart and driven, Karina is a talented and passionate writer – she has an online presence where many of her poems, song lyrics and short stories have been published. Oh, and did we mention that she can sing too? Karina is an avid choir member and featured soloist. 

Karina talking about her time at the Braille Institute of America:

“I have learned a lot from that wonderful community” After movng to the United States, Karina was an intern at the Braille Institute of America. Currently, she works as a full-time receptionist and uses her bioptic daily for clerical tasks that require a significant amount of reading. Karina prefers her Ocutech bioptics over other devices such as hand-held magnifiers because of the versatility and efficiency that comes with the ability to seamlessly move between viewing an object up-close and at a distance, such as reading a book and then looking up at a computer screen. “I do a lot of clerical tasks that require me to read a lot and my device Ocutech Sport has been a really big help for me to do my job well.” 

Karina talking about the lessons she’s learned:

  • One very important thing that I have learned recently, is that you have to keep on looking for ways to innovate or improve yourself and your capabilities, learning and growing should NEVER stop.
  • Even if you have limitations – such as someone who is visually impaired, you can still do so many things that those without physical impairments can do. There are many resources available, people who care and people willing to help.
  • If you have a disability, you are also capable of helping others who need assistance. When people see a visually impaired person striving to be better and do better, it is a source of inspiration in and of itself. And that is another way of helping. 🙂


The benefits of bioptics for individuals with Albinism and Stargardt’s Disease

Individuals who are born with a visual impairment such as Albinism or who develop it in their younger years such as Stargardt’s Disease are disadvantaged in their ability to maximize their academic, occupational and social lives.

Distance vision is our SOCIAL SENSE. We use it to make eye contact, read body language, and to interact with the world around us.

While reading may be the first issue that visually impaired individuals will notice, it is not the only factor that will impact their lives, their personal potential, and even their happiness. Reduced distance vision reduces one’s independence and confines individuals both in their geographic area but also in their ability to increase their personal and economic opportunities. A low vision telescope magnifies the retinal image making things more visible and can provide near-normal visual acuity. When the telescope is attached to the top of eyeglasses, called a bioptic, the user can quickly, easily and conveniently alternate their vision between their normal vision

and that of the telescope, providing sharp vision when they need it.     The more natural the use of any device, the more readily it will be used. While a handheld telescope will also provide the same visual acuity, it is not nearly as convenient to use and as a result they are not used to nearly as great an amount or benefit, as is a bioptic telescope. New bioptic telescope designs are very much easier to fit and demonstrate.

No one wants to look unusual. New designs of bioptic telescopes, especially the Ocutech VES-Sport, provide a modern hi-tech appearance making them much more acceptable to wear. The development of high-tech digital devices like the Google-Glass make modern-looking devices attached to eyeglasses much more common around the world. While bioptic telescopes are more expensive than handheld monocular devices, the benefit they provide for the user’s schooling, work, travel, and social life, contributes very much more value to the user than the cost of the device itself. In the same way that we invest in our children’s education, we must also invest in the aids that enable these children to take full advantage of the educational programs provided to them.

Investing in bioptics at an early age gives individuals with visual impairment the capability to maximize opportunities and reach their full potential.