Erie Community College students don't spend all their time on the college's three campuses. And often times, their education takes them well outside county lines.
In the case of senior ophthalmic dispensing student Sabrina Parkin, her career-focused training recently took her to the island of Jamaica to both serve on a vision care mission and embrace her roots.
"Jamaica is a part of my heritage, and a country that was home to many of my ancestors," she said. "A big part of my identity drove me to help Jamaicans the way I know best: as a certified optician."
Located in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is about 90 miles south of Cuba. With a population of approximately 2.8 million people, Jamaica is the second-poorest country in the Caribbean following Haiti. The country faces many difficulties in the field of medicine, as its residents are not able to receive proper medical care because local facilities desperately lack needed technology.
Enter Parkin, whose ophthalmic dispensing education at ECC prepared her to spend three December days providing vision screenings to students at the Llandilo School of Special Education in Savanna-La-Mar (Sav). Through screenings of more than 100 students in need, about 30 percent received updated prescriptions and corrective eyewear at no cost.
Ophthalmic dispensers (opticians) are licensed professionals who dispense eyeglasses and/or contact lenses to the public from prescriptions written by eye doctors. Such services are of great aid to indigent or third world populations. Moreover, with the increase in the U.S. population and the aging of the baby boomer generation, the demand for ophthalmic dispensing services - whether in private businesses, health maintenance organizations or professional eye care offices - has risen.