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New optometry office offers free screening for kids

by: Anthony Roberts, Dr. Adina Zapodeanu’s office opened in February. She does routine eye checks, but also has the ability to do minor surgical procedures.

As an optometrist looking to start her own practice, Dr. Adina Zapodeanu saw a perfect opportunity in Sherwood.

On the state level, Oregon allows optometrists greater latitude to practice than almost any other state. At the local level, she found a growing community with a plethora of young families and children, who often need care during the crucial years that their eyes are developing.

That led Zapodeanu to open Sherwood Family Eye Health in the Sherwood Ice Arena building on Borchers Drive in February.

Zapodeanu was originally trained as an ophthalmologist in her native Romania, but through a visa lottery system, her family moved to the United States in 1999. Different standards between two countries prevented her from practicing ophthalmologist in America, so Zapodeanu went back to school, graduating from Pacific University, where she was awarded for her research on Dry Eye Syndrome. After a one-year residency at the Northeastern Oklahoma College of Optometry, she moved on to work at an optometry office in Salem.

"In the last two years, I thought about opening my own practice," she explained. "When you work for somebody else there are limitations. I felt that if I had my own practice, I could do all the law allows."

In Oregon, that means everything from basic eye exams to certain minor surgical procedures and injections, along with pre- and post-operation exams. Ophthalmologists complete other surgeries, but in Oregon there is significant overlap between the two specialties.

"In some states you're barely allowed to put drops in a patient's eye," Zapodeanu said. "[Optometrists] can't even treat glaucoma in some places."

While she is able to treat glaucoma, which often afflicts older adults, Zapodeanu said she also spends a lot of time with younger patients, noting the crucial development that takes place in the eye between birth and age three. Sherwood Family Eye Health gives free visits to children under one year old.

The move was inspired partially by the InfantSEE program, championed by President Jimmy Carter, for children who suffer from what is commonly known as "lazy eye." The program is designed to provide younger children with more in-depth vision checks than the typical base-level screening they get from a pediatrician. Lazy eye, or amblyopia, often goes undiagnosed until a child is older. While the condition is usually treated with glasses or contacts, bad cases can prevent people from entering certain professions.

Of course, six-month old children aren't going to be reading which letters they see on an illuminated Snellen chart. To gauge their sight, Zapodeanu administers reflexive eye tests. She has large panels with a striped pattern on one end. A child's eyes should go immediately to the pattern, which gets less discernible with each board, much like the letters get smaller on a chart.

Sherwood Family Health is a "paperless" office, and includes equipment like a visual analyzer that can detect Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Cataract, Retinal detachment, and even brain tumors. The office also has a fundus camera that takes a "photo' of the eye and shows any retinal or general diseases.

Zapodeanu's office also sells eyeglass frames, including everything from simple glasses to upscale brands like Prada.

Zapodeanu recently received the title of Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, as a result of an oral examination and her continuous research and publications at national optometric meetings.

Sherwood Family Eye Health is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 503-625-2727, or visit www.sherwoodeyehealth.com.