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NECO Student Wins $1,000 Optometry Grant

Francesca Sefton, Class of 2017, was chosen as one of two runner-ups in an optometry grant program. The competition, sponsored by National Vision, Inc., was open to third and fourth year optometry students. Applicants were asked to submit a video or short essay on the topic of “The Importance of Affordable, Primary Eye Care in a Changing Health Care Environment.” As a runner-up, Ms. Sefton will receive a $1,000 grant.

In her winning essay, A Path to Clear Vision and a Healthier Society, Ms. Sefton discussed how the country is facing high levels of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, all of which impact eye health. She explains, “These trends are seen the most in areas where people are uninsured due to costly health insurance.  It is our duty as optometrists to not only enlighten the public on the importance of routine eye care in young and older patients, but ensure that they are able to receive the care they need, regardless of socioeconomic status or background.”   She notes the critical role optometrists play in “general health and disease prevention” and the need to address barriers such as awareness, access to care, and cost.

In addition to her studies as a third year optometry student, Ms. Sefton is passionate about the world and community health. She has traveled to India, Panama and Belize to deliver free eye care on medical missions and has been struck by “the prevalence of treatable ocular conditions in poverty-stricken communities and their impact on quality of life.”  Upon graduation, she plans to continue to work offering access to care to individuals in need. She explains, “I plan to partner with programs that seek to eliminate the barrier that keeps many from receiving the treatment they need when it comes to their vision.”  

To learn more about Ms. Sefton’s entry, read her winning essay, A Path to Clear Vision and A Healthier Society. Read more about the announcement and winners on Vision Monday.