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3/15/20 Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from SCO President, Dr. Lewis Reich


Events have continued to unfold at a rapid pace related to the national emergency response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Public and private institutions are on the frontlines helping the nation flatten the infection curve to keep cases from overwhelming our healthcare system’s capacity to assist those most at risk, including seniors and those with underlying chronic health conditions.

In consultation with our senior leadership and other institutions, Southern College of Optometry has decided to prioritize public health safety. As noted in previous communications, while no COVID-19 cases have been reported at SCO, the increasing number of infections poses serious risks to students, employees, and others in clinical settings.

Taking into consideration the public health risks to clinical eyecare delivery, we have a number of critical updates to communicate:

  • The decision has been made to suspend all clinical assignments in The Eye Center, University Eyecare, FocalPoint, and MobilEyes and in-person laboratory teaching, effective immediately and until further notice.
    • University Eyecare and FocalPoint will be completely closed until further notice.
  • Things could change extremely quickly, so everyone must regularly monitor emails, texts, and social media updates in this unfolding situation
  • Effective Monday, March 16th, lecture attendance will no longer be optional, all lectures will be online only until further notice. Students may hear from course instructors with additional details. The college will closely monitor and work to ensure a smooth transition to this method of teaching.
  • SCO students should not attend their in-person courses, clinic rotations, or labs until further notice. Students should not come onto campus unless otherwise notified.
  • The Eye Center will suspend regular patient care. Steps are being taken to notify patient care appointments.
  • A volunteer team of faculty members and limited staff will be on hand in The Eye Center to triage emergency care only. The idea is to help keep patients from flooding hospital emergency rooms if we can be of assistance.
  • SCO recommends that all students and employees do not attempt to travel to reduce the opportunity for exposure to COVID-19. Everyone should practice social distancing.
  • Employees should not come onto campus, with the exception of those who may be requested as needed to assist to volunteer. Unless you’re requested by your Vice President (or director/manager consulting with your Vice President), you should not come to campus.
  • Employees will be receiving separate information at the appropriate interval with additional details about compensation, in part related to pending federal legislation addressing the national emergency.

By working together, we hope to do our part to help minimize the spread of this infectious pandemic. As soon as we’re able to resume in a safe manner, SCO will do so. We understand the concern students will feel about their academic progress. Please know that the college will continue working with ACOE and others in our field for best practice recommendations.

Please monitor your email, the college’s website, and social media for additional updates. As stressful as this unprecedented situation may seem, we are mindful that there are thousands of infected patients across the nation and many more around the globe. As educators and healthcare providers, society looks to institutions like SCO for trust when it comes to patient care safety.

Individual questions are welcomed as this situation unfolds. SCO appreciates your continued commitment to the high standards that have made the college a leader in optometric education and the region’s leading eyecare provider. SCO was founded during the Great Depression and survived WWII when most of our students were called away to service. With your cooperation, we can work together through this latest challenge and emerge stronger when this crisis passes.

Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Southern College of Optometry

at Sunday, March 15, 2020

Contact Lens Wear and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please read this news release from Contact Lens Spectrum:
(click here for original link)

Top Contact Lens Experts Dispel Misinformation Regarding Coronavirus / COVID-19 Protections for Contact Lens Wearers

  • Research scientists in Canada, United Kingdom and United States share guidance on safe contact lens wear and handling
  • Thorough hand washing and disinfection compliance are important
  • Millions should continue to use contact lenses with confidence
WATERLOO, Ontario, March 12, 2020—Three of the world’s most published researchers in eye health are responding to misinformation circulating regarding contact lens and spectacles/glasses wear amidst Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. Lyndon Jones, director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo (Canada); Philip Morgan, director of Eurolens Research at The University of Manchester (United Kingdom); and Jason Nichols, Associate Vice President Research and Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (United States) and editor in chief of Contact Lens Spectrum, are advising eye care professionals and consumers to heed sound, evidence-based practices.
  • Contact Lens Wear is Safe. Despite myths and misinformation that have arisen over the past 48 hours, contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction for millions of people worldwide.

  • Proper Hand Washing is Essential. When using contact lenses or spectacles, careful and thorough hand washing with soap and water followed by hand drying with unused paper towels is paramount. For contact lens wearers, this should occur before every insertion and removal.

  • Disinfect Contact Lenses. Contact lens wearers should either dispose of their daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect their monthly and two-week lenses according to manufacturer and eye care professional instructions.

  • Disinfect Spectacles and Glasses. Some viruses such as COVID-19 can remain on hard surfaces for hours to days, which can be transferred to spectacles wearers’ fingers and faces. This especially holds true for presbyopes (people generally over the age of 40). Most presbyopes require reading glasses and they may be putting them on and off their face multiple times a day. This age group appears to be among the more vulnerable population for developing COVID-19, as compared with contact lens wearers, who are typically younger.

  • Discontinue Lens Wear Only if Sick. Ceasing contact lens wear when sick is advised, consistent with guidance for other types of illness.

  • Spectacles are Not Proven to Offer Protection. There is no scientific evidence that wearing spectacles or glasses provide protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions.
A recent peer-reviewed paper published in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye draws attention to how hand washing habits could affect the development of contact lens related microbial keratitis and corneal inflammatory events.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization recommend that people clean their hands often to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. Specifically, they advise all people to:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Use approved personal protective eyewear (medical masks, goggles or face shields) in certain settings involved in the care of patients (


at Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

At Southern College of Optometry, the health and safety of our patients and campus community is a critical priority. With the national coronavirus (COVID-19)  cases reported in Tennessee and other states, we will continue to monitor the outbreak. Based on recommendations of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other appropriate health agencies, we are working to keep our campus clean and safe.

With prevention being the best protection against the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, we encourage you to please reschedule your appointment if you’re ill (coughing, sneezing, fever, shortness of breath, or other serious symptoms). Frequent handwashing is crucially important. Signage has also been placed in our clinics to reinforce this message and to encourage handwashing.

If you have additional questions or concerns about this outbreak, we encourage you to monitor updates from the local health authorities and the CDC. Thank you for working with us to keep us all safe and healthy.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash
at Monday, March 9, 2020

Watch the Upcoming Solar Eclipse Safely

Planning for the Solar Eclipse

West Tennessee is in a great viewing position for the August 21 solar eclipse, with near totality anticipated in the afternoon hours. Safely viewing a solar eclipse, however, is critically important to avoid permanent damage to your eyes.

Eclipse Safety

In the spirit of public health and safety, please take a moment to learn more about the solar eclipse:

The solar eclipse is exciting and educational, but above all, you must take steps to ensure the safety of your vision. Please ask your eye doctor if you have additional questions.

Learn more in this article from USA Today.

Southern College of Optometry Eclipse Day with Memphis Redbirds 

Southern College of Optometry is proud to partner with the Memphis Redbirds to provide solar eclipse glasses to attendees during the team’s baseball game timed to coincide with the eclipse. The first 5,000 attendees will receive glasses approved for safely looking at the eclipse.

at Monday, July 31, 2017

American Optometric Association Complaint Urges FDA Enforcement of Device Standards on Vision "App"

Southern College of Optometry’s Clinical Programs supports the American Optometric Association’s important appeal to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the safety and efficacy of online vision testing. We take this opportunity to stress the importance to our patients about the benefits of an eye examination. There is no substitute for having a professional eye doctor examine your eye and vision health each year through an annual exam.

American Optometric Association Complaint Urges FDA Enforcement of Device Standards on Vision "App"

AOA argues that Opternative test can lead to inaccurate prescriptions, and poses serious health risks to the public—and should be removed from the market 

ST. LOUIS (April 04, 2016)— The American Optometric Association (AOA) is today asking the Food and Drug Administration to take legal action against an online vision test being marketed by Opternative, Inc. without the type of testing and pre-market approvals frequently required of new medical device technology. The Opternative test produces a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses without any examination of the patient by an eye care professional and without taking into account the patient's overall medical condition. 

In a detailed complaint now before the FDA, the AOA challenges claims made by Opternative about its product's capabilities, and calls for enforcement action to remove it from the market until it can be shown to meet all appropriate Federal requirements for medical devices under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, including for safety and effectiveness, as determined by Federal officials. 

The materials submitted to the FDA also set forth the immediate clinical and patient health considerations that lead the AOA to the conclusion that the Opternative test: 
  • Has a significant potential for yielding inaccurate prescriptions; and 
  • Is not adequate to safely yield a contact lens prescription; and   
  • Carries a significant risk of the missing of diagnoses of serious eye and general health considerations such as glaucoma, hypertension, cataracts, and macular degeneration; and 
  • Can pose significant health risks to the public.   
Dr. Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA president, says the AOA has taken this action to expose questionable product claims, safeguard public health and maintain the medically recognized standard of care linking a patient's vision and eye health.

"The AOA—as an authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation's health—is committed to ensuring that the public is not misled, essential care is not diverted or dangerously delayed and patient safety laws are not ignored," said Dr. Loomis. "No product or company can or should be allowed to operate outside appropriate Federal oversight when vision and overall health are at stake. That's why the AOA is urging the government to fully enforce basic patient safety and consumer protection safeguards." 

In bringing these issues to the attention of FDA officials and requesting enforcement action on the public's behalf, the AOA notes that the State of Michigan recently issued a cease and desist order against Opternative for violating the state consumer protection law. Other states are considering possible responses to safeguard public health.

A personalized, in person comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor is the only consistent and clinically proven method to detect not just vision issues, but also a full range of eye and general health conditions; many of which have no obvious signs or symptoms but can threaten vision loss and systemic health. This is because eye exams by doctors of optometry are also effective in diagnosing systemic diseases at an early stage, including diabetes, hypertension and stroke. 

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit
at Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Let the Buyer Beware: A Closer Look at Ordering Eyeglasses Online

The Eye Center strongly advises purchasing from your optometrist

[Memphis, TN, March 19, 2015] — Purchasing eyeglasses online may offer convenience to consumers, but The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry warns that the consequences of making an incorrect or uninformed purchase could cost patients more time and money in the long run. 

Download an infographic from the AOA

The Eye Center stresses that eyeglasses are an investment in your health and must be custom-fitted not only to be comfortable, but also to meet particular prescriptive needs, which only an eye doctor can determine. 

“Without visiting an eye doctor, patients run the risk of purchasing eyeglasses online with an improper fit or receiving the wrong prescription altogether,” said Dr. James E. Venable, Vice President for Clinical Programs at The Eye Center. “Ultimately, patients can expend more time dealing with order mistakes and making returns than had they simply visited their local optometrist in the first place.” 

An American Optometric Association (AOA) study published in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council reinforces the drawbacks of online orders. The study concluded:

  • Of 200 glasses ordered online, only 154 pairs were received;
  • 44.8 percent had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues;
  • 29 percent had at least one lens fail to meet required prescription;
  • 19 percent of adult lenses failed impact resistance testing; and,
  • 25 percent of children’s lenses failed impact resistance testing.

Purchasing eyeglasses from a local optometrist is the AOA’s first and foremost recommendation. If patients are still interested in making a purchase online, The Eye Center warns consumers to do their homework before making a final decision.
“If a consumer believes that ordering a pair of glasses online is in their best interest, it is important for the consumer to be fully informed regarding the potential pitfalls in doing so,” Dr. Venable. “The peer-reviewed study revealed that nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards. Personally, I find that very scary. Patients deserve better than that.”

The Eye Center advises consumers to consider the following factors before making a purchase online:

The fit and material of the eyeglasses
How the eyeglasses fit is critically important — if the fit is incorrect, not only can a patient experience discomfort, such as pinching and headaches, but can also cause additional vision problems.
Consumers also need to consider the various options available for the lenses, and what is best for their particular prescription and lifestyle. Lenses come in various materials, such as traditional plastic, as well as thinner, lighter materials. Other considerations are the different coatings and treatments available such as non-glare coatings and photochromic lenses.

The accuracy of the prescription
Just because the eyeglasses “look right” on a person’s face doesn’t mean the measurements are correct, the AOA warns. Pupil distance (PD) determines where to place the center of each lens in your frames to customize the optics to your eyes. This measurement is necessary to ensure the eyeglasses serve your vision needs properly. 

Consumers need an optometrist to provide the PD and ensure precise measurements. However, the PD is not part of your prescription and not normally provided unless you ask for it. Your optometrist or optician can even legitimately charge for the service of providing your PD. The measurements needed for multifocals can only be accurately made once the frame is selected and properly fitted to your face, so typically this measurement is simply estimated for eyeglasses available online.

The retailer’s policies on purchases

  • Returns: What is the website’s return policy if you are not satisfied with your purchase? How will the website deal with issues of prescription inaccuracies or other mistakes (wrong lenses coatings, wrong color, etc)? 
  • Warrantees: Does the online retailer offer protection against lens scratching, how long this may be covered and what needs to be done to replace scratched lenses. How long is the frame warranty? What about children’s frames?
  • Shipping: The cost and timeliness of shipments varies. Who pays for shipping returns?
  • Pricing: Are protective eyeglass cases and cleaning cloths included, or are they “extras” added to the cost? 
  • Insurance: Some websites do not accept vision insurance. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), check to see what’s required to accept this as payment.
  • Maintenance: Some websites provide a contact for this and may offer online tips for minor adjustments, but it might mean shipping your glasses away and being without them until the service is completed and they are returned.

For more in-depth detail about factors to consider before purchasing eyeglasses online, click here to read a brochure offered by the AOA. 

As the leaders of primary eye care in the United States, doctors of optometry are crucial in helping patients achieve optimum eye health and vision, and are the best resource to offer the highest quality eyeglasses. 

To learn more about the many health benefits of seeing your optometrist, or to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam, visit or call 901-722-3250. 

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit

at Thursday, March 19, 2015