Optometry, Education Student's Paper Earns Publication

Nikita Katoozi OD ’18, MEd/VFL ’18 is the winner of this year’s Optometrists Change Lives Student Writing Competition. Her winning paper — based on her thesis for the Master of Education/Visual Function in Learning program — will be published in an upcoming issue of the Optometry & Visual Performance Journal, an international, peer-reviewed journal.

For her thesis project, Katoozi set out to determine if there is room for improvement in the way classroom teachers identify children who need eye care. One of the most common ways in which teachers identify kids who may need glasses is to look for students who tilt their heads sideways while reading or get very close to the page.

Katoozi conducted her research at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School in Forest Grove, Ore. She did vision screenings on students who were referred by teachers for evaluation. Then, she tracked their head movements during individual reading sessions by having each student wear a motion sensor. Later, Katoozi compared head-movement data to the results of her vision screenings.

“The questions I wanted to answer with my thesis project were: Could teachers observe head movements and were head movements correlated to whether or not children need glasses?”

The results were inconclusive because of the study’s small sample size, but Katoozi feels the questions deserve more attention and plans to continue her research.

“When I first started the MEd/VFL program, my goal was to do an article based on my thesis,” she said. “Our program has so many awesome projects that don’t get out to the optometry public.”

Pacific University's MEd/VFL program is a concurrent degree offering designed for optometry students with an interest in how vision impacts learning. Students earn a doctorate in optometry, as well as a master's in education, as they often conduct research in local schools.

Jul. 20, 2017