CI MED Students Establish New Free Eye Care Clinic

March 14, 2024

Written by

[figure="" width="800"]

Carle Illinois College of Medicine students have collaborated with local ophthalmologists to establish the Avicenna Eye Clinic to better connect the local community with free, comprehensive eye and vision care. The new services help to bridge care gaps for patients who may lack access to adequate ophthalmologic care. 

Eric Moran
Eric Moran


“Systemic diseases such as diabetes, neurological disorders, and vascular disease often manifest in the eyes. This makes ophthalmologic care especially important to at-risk populations, including the immigrant and refugee population that Avicenna often sees, as well as other groups with limited engagement with the health care system,” Eric Moran, Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CI MED) student and co-director of the Avicenna Eye Clinic said. “Ophthalmologic care is an essential part of health care, as vision is a sense that many rely on. Vision-threatening diseases risk wellbeing, livelihood, and general health.”


The clinic is overseen by CI MED student directors Moran, Bhargavee Gnanasambandam, and Ben Lee. It offers a range of services, including comprehensive eye exams, glaucoma screening, glasses prescriptions, dilated eye exams, assessment of vision problems, and referrals and management of eye symptoms. 

Bhargavee Gnanasambandam
Bhargavee Gnanasambandam


“The eye clinic has been incredibly successful in the first few months that we have been open,” Gnanasambandam explained. “We have a lot of patients who are excited to see us because they often do not have vision insurance that allows them to get vision care. Many patients have waited over three or four years to be seen because they simply cannot afford new glasses or an eye exam.” 


The CI MED students involved with the clinic provide support through intake opportunities – including volunteering at several clinics each month – and outreach throughout the community at local soup kitchens and shelters to boost awareness of the clinic. 

Ben Lee
Ben Lee


“We believe that no person should be unable to receive health care due to cost,” Moran emphasized. “We strive to be inclusive of our community’s diverse population. We utilize technology to call in translating services which allow for us to speak with patients who come to Champaign from around the world.” 


The medical students are supported by CI MED mentors and preceptors Dr. Erika Person and Dr. Abu-Bakar Zafar. They see patients and educate the medical students on site. Additional physicians support the clinic, as well.


Determined to improve access to eye care, the CI MED students are also engaging in fundraising opportunities, specifically to buy equipment including an ophthalmoscope, lenses, a tonometer, and lensometer.


“We can help patients monitor their vision, work with local organizations to provide glasses at a reduced cost, and provide better education on general eye health,” said Gnanasambandam. “We are excited to watch the organization grow and improve the lives of more patients.” 


The Avicenna Eye Clinic is open on select Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Information on how to make an appointment, the full range of services, and upcoming Eye Clinic dates is available on the Avicenna website.


The Avicenna Health Center is a community volunteer opportunity for CI MED students. The Carle Illinois College of Medicine encourages its students to engage in their communities independent of their academic programs. The college shares information about these efforts but does not sponsor or endorse them.

Share this story

This story was published March 14, 2024.