Joella Martire, OD ’20, a third year student at New England College of Optometry (NECO), recently received a travel grant to attend the ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) conference. The Readers Digest Partners for Sight grant is given to a student doing research in low vision as a travel stipend to attend ARVO conference, held this year in Hawaii. Martire travelled to the conference with students and faculty from NECO.
The Partners for Sight program aims to provide support to organizations and individuals working towards aiding and improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired. Martire is currently pursuing both an OD and MS degree concurrently at NECO, working with mentor Dr. Nicole Ross on low vision research. Martire explains, “This year, I was honored to have received the grant to attend ARVO 2018 and have the opportunity to present my current research in low vision. My research for ARVO explored How do people with central vision loss use their remaining vision? How can we measure how they are using their remaining vision? and finally,How can we use those outcome measures to better their lives and make activities of daily living easier to accomplish?
The OD/MS dual degree program at NECO is designed for students looking to earn a Master in Science in Vision Science (MS) degree as they pursue their Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Students take graduate level courses, attend seminars, and complete an original research project with thesis defense. “Being part of the dual degree OD/MS program at NECO allowed me to have this amazing opportunity to both travel and learn about vision research outside of the classroom from around the world,” says Martire.
“I applied to be a part of the dual-degree program because I believe that research is the foundation for my future optometric career and this program would give me the opportunity to contribute to that foundation,” Martire notes. “Before NECO, I spent a portion of my undergraduate degree in a vision research lab working on low vision research projects as well. Having some prior experience in low vision kept me motivated to continue to pursue those efforts at NECO while also working towards obtaining my degree of Optometry. The low vision population is growing, and it is a population that can greatly benefit from optometric advances and help; this is why I chose to pursue low vision, as it is a field that can have such a great impact on someone life and how they carry out their daily tasks, and it motivated me knowing I could find ways to help them feel more comfortable in their day to day tasks.”