By KARA GAE NEAL
SETTING SIGHTS: Owasso senior Jullian Peterson, right, performs a vision screening in Tulsa Tech’s Vision Care program. Peterson plans to continue her medical-related studies at Tulsa Tech.
Courtesy Tulsa Tech
Jillian Peterson may not be near-sighted, but she was near perfect in discovering a serious problem during a routine vision screening.
The Owasso High School senior enrolled in Tulsa Tech’s Vision Care program after completing the Medical Coding class as a junior. “The medical coding class was great, but the work was more focused on the back office,” Jillian recalls, “and with the things we learned in the vision care class, I get to work more on the front lines.”
Part of this frontline work included free vision screenings where students not only practice the skills they’ve learned in class, but also raise money for charity. It was during one of these screenings that Jillian noticed something she’d seen before. “This individual appeared to have a retinal detachment, and needed to be referred to an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis immediately,” Jillian said.
Retinal detachment is a disorder of the eye in which the retina peels away from its underlying layer of support tissue. The initial detachment may be localized, but without rapid treatment the entire retina may detach, leading to vision loss and blindness. The optical system of the eye focuses light on the retina much like light is focused on the film in a camera. The retina translates that focused image into impulses and sends them to the brain via the optic nerve. Occasionally, injury or trauma to the eye or head may cause a small tear in the retina. The tear allows fluid to seep under the retina, and peel it away like a bubble in wallpaper.
“I was glad that I was able to help this person, and the problem could be treated before they suffered any additional loss of vision,” Jillian said, “because any amount of vision a person loses, they’ll probably never recover.”
The risk of retinal detachment in otherwise normal eyes is around 5 in 100,000 per year. Detachment is more frequent in patients with diabetes, and the middle-aged, or elderly population with rates of around 20 in 100,000 per year.
Jillian credits her instructor, and the state-of-the-art facilities at Tulsa Tech for her success. “Ms. Shew is very smart and she’s been in the industry for a long time,” Jillian said. “She’s always friendly and supportive which makes learning everything about vision care much easier. Our class trained and practiced on the same equipment currently used in the vision care profession.”
Julie Shew, Tulsa Tech’s Vision Care instructor, said she enjoys getting the chance to work with students like Jillian. “I enjoy providing the right instructional environment, where students are encouraged to learn the many aspects of vision care, and see if this may be the right profession for them.”
As for Jillian, she’s set her sights on a new goal. “I’d really like to enroll in Tulsa Tech’s Surgical Technology class, and hopefully be able to assist in optical surgery in the future.” Although she may not be near-sighted, Jillian Peterson definitely has a vision for a successful career in the future.
For more information about programs offered at Tulsa Tech, visit www.tulsatech.edu.