I have always been interested in research, however, the one thing that I didn’t like about it was that most of the time you don’t get to see, first hand, the impact your research has had. This class/ the global social impact fellowship offers both, research and the chance to meet and work with the people your research is trying to help. Being apart of this course and fellowship will expose me to lab work outside of my major required classes. Being apart of the lab will improve my ability to look at results and form conclusions. My ability to take these conclusions and collaborate with others in order to decide what to do next will also improve. The only lab experiences I have had are the biology and chemistry labs offered here at Lehigh that are apart of my major requirements. During each lab a pretty strict procedure was provided and had to be followed. By following these procedures I learned how to complete basic lab tasks like pipetting, titrations and plating. While I mastered these tasks in the regular biology and chemistry labs the strict procedures did not allow us to think for ourselves on how to obtain certain results. I am assuming the past lab members have determined a basic procedure on how to obtain results in the Sickle Cell Anemia Lab. My fellow lab partners and I will now be working on improving this procedure in order to obtain the results we are looking for. As a bioengineering student lab skills are very important and I believe they will improve greatly in this course. Apart from the science, my ability to work with others and explain my ideas in a clear concise way will also improve, this is a skill that can be applied to any situation in my life not just my professional life.
I think the first step in improving and/or solving the problem of lack of eye care in developing countries is to increase the number of optometrists in these areas. By improving the education system (from kindergarten to university) and making it accessible to everyone, more people will be educated and will have the opportunity to become an optometrist for their community. Schools specifically for optometry should be opened around these developing areas and should be accessible by anyone who has completed their education from kindergarten to university. A good education system would lead to more optometrists in these communities and will in turn improve the eye care in these communities. By implementing this solution these developing countries will eventually be able to solve and eliminate this problem themselves, however, this solution could take years, maybe decades, to set up. In the meantime, a non-profit organization made up of optometrists and volunteers from around the world could set up a program to send a group of doctors every few months to tour around these developing areas. These doctors would help set people up with basic glasses. It would cost a lot of money and would take a lot of time to set every single patient up with their own specific prescription. Instead basic glasses frames could be made using 3D printers could be mass produced for not a lot of money. The glass, prescription part of the glasses, could be pre made with different types of common prescriptions and popped into place after an examination. While the prescription might not be perfect the optometrist would try to get as close to the patient’s prescription as possible with the glasses available. Providing access to eye care and prescription glasses will improve the quality of life for many people and will hopefully prevent (preventable) blindness. These prescription glasses will also increase the productivity of many people at work and will allow them to contribute to the growth of the community.