The laptop cursor unerringly hovers over the tiny mail icon of the paper airplane, as if propelled by an Ouija board. It engages the paper airplane envelope as the swoosh noise signals my final T35 paper flying out into cyberspace. I take a deep breath of relief as two weeks of long nights and countless hours of editing my presentation are finally lifted off my shoulders.
Although you may presume from my last blog that I spent many lazy weekends relaxing with friends and exploring some of New England’s best beaches, the other five days I toiled in the lab trying to make my mark in the vision research world under the T35 program. Not only did we obtain some exciting new results, but we also formed a tight-knit bond among us summer students. So whether you decide to join the MS program or not, a summer of research at NECO can allow you to gain a new perspective on eye care while helping to find cures for common eye problems (such as myopia). My project involved investigating the effects of atropine (an anti-muscarinic drug used as anti-myopia treatment in clinic) in chicks. We exposed their eyes to color flicker and luminance flicker that induce myopic and hyperopic shift, respectively. We then recorded any changes in vision under the different experimental conditions. Much to our surprise, we observed that color flicker negated the effect of atropine and induced a myopic shift. These results were fascinating because they demonstrated that environmental factors play a significant role in myopia progression. Since atropine has been shown to cause severe side effects, perhaps luminance flicker and other environmental cues can be used as replacement treatments in the future. There is just something so thrilling about making a discovery that has never been done before.
Lest I be tempted to bask in the afterglow of conquering the unknown, I diligently approach my desk and start filling out documents for my return as a second-year OD. Although I still have one week left to squeeze in those last Boston sight-seeing musts, I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive about starting my second year. Entering as unsuspecting first years, we watched the second-years swarm the library before midterms and finals, fight for seats in pre-clinic, and chug coffee like water. Not to mention that we begin our clinical rotations….which means actually treating patients! It is hard to believe that someone’s life, or should I say eyes, will be placed in our hands. But on the other side, I also feel confident stepping into second year. No longer am I the timid freshman fumbling with my instruments, hopelessly wandering the hallways of the school trying to find my way. Instead I have mastered where almost every classroom is located (all two of them), how to manage my time, and have formed friendships with many of the other students. Last but definitely not least, in September we will finally have earned the glorious “White Coat” that gives everyone the impression that we are now qualified to be their doctor. Although it’s easy to think about all the things we have yet to learn and challenges that lie ahead, it’s important to take a moment and remember how far we first years have already come….because just like summer, it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.
During a quick break from writing, I decide to click on my Summer 2013 album. As I scroll through the pictures, practically tasting the delicious brats in Germany, laughing at my friends trying to push a rock the size of a truck down the cliffs of Acadia National Park, and enjoying a picture of my lab team celebrating after our final presentations, I can’t help but think…no, know, that this has been the best summer yet.
Stay tuned for my first blog as a newly-minted OD2 in September!