By Cathi Douglas
When Suzanne Tran, OD, ’03, graduated from the Southern California College of Optometry, she was inspired by her professor and mentor Tim Edrington, OD, MS, to pursue a residency and found herself spending the year after graduation at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.
As a result of her positive SCCO and residency experience, she had the foresight to include the College in her estate plans.
Giving back has always been important to Suzanne, and though she sadly left us all sooner than expected, I am confident she would be proud that her legacy is being carried on by her mentor, Dr. Edrington,” says husband and SCCO alumnus, Mark Miller, OD, ’91.
Thanks to Dr. Tran’s estate gift, the Dr. Suzanne Tran Cornea & Contact Lens Residency Training Endowment has been established. Dr. Edrington can send his current and future cornea and contact lens residents to the Midwest for special residency training. Dr. Miller wanted the residents to start this year, so an additional gift from him will fund the program for the next three years while Dr. Tran’s endowment matures.
Dr. Edrington recalls, “I was fortunate to spend time with Dr. Tran during her cornea and contact lens residency at NESU in Oklahoma. She was very proud of her experiences during her year at NESU and we shared our thoughts about how important residencies are. In Dr. Tran’s case, she was able to use her post-optometry school training to benefit her patients who were in need of specialized contact lens care. When I learned of Dr. Tran’s passing, and her estate gift to SCCO, I knew that supporting future residents’ education would be an ideal way to honor her legacy. She was so committed to education as a way to serve patients in the community, and this endowment will honor her in perpetuity.”
Now observing his 40th year at the Southern California College of Optometry, Dr. Tim Edrington says he still gets excited about prescribing medically necessary contact lenses to patients who otherwise have little hope of seeing clearly. “What I like most about providing contact lens care to our patients is that we make peoples’ lives better.”
A graduate of Indiana University’s College of Optometry, Dr. Edrington first began prescribing contact lenses to patients when he served as an Army officer at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. “Other doctors of optometry at Walter Reed were not prescribing contact lenses at that time, so I started to develop an interest in it, and my interest kept growing.”
Dr. Edrington, who also practiced optometry in Illinois and Texas prior to accepting a teaching position at SCCO, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate in their Cornea, Contact Lens, and Refractive Technologies Section. He has a master’s degree in higher education from Cal State Fullerton and has authored more than 50 published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, more than 70 published articles, more than 120 published research abstracts and 10 book chapters on cornea and contact lenses.
“The passion in my life is teaching contact lenses to the optometry students and our residents,” he says. “It’s a joy to work with them and to see the students and residents grow during the year or two we work together.” The residents are already doctors of optometry, and they come to the University Eye Center at Ketchum Health for further training in their specialty area of cornea and contact lenses.
Dr. Edrington began training residents in 1996 and has trained and mentored about 30 residents since then. Although the majority of their training is direct patient care at the University Eye Center, the residents observe and learn from optometrists and ophthalmologists at hospitals, private practices and universities as they treat patients and perform complex surgeries.
SCCO’s current residents, Drs. Annie Lee and Andrew Vo, will travel in May to Overland Park, Kan., to observe corneal specialists Timothy Cavanaugh, MD, and Jared Jaynes, OD. Dr. Jaynes graduated from SCCO in 2012 and completed his residency at SCCO’s University Eye Center the following year.
Dr. Cavanaugh was a study investigator who played a vital role in getting refractive lasers approved for use in the United States. He was the first laser eye surgeon in the Kansas City area to use the microkeratome, the extraordinarily precise surgical instrument used to make incisions in LASIK surgery. Dr. Cavanaugh also has extensive experience in performing bladeless, laser-assisted cataract and LASIK surgery and is nationally recognized for his work in corneal transplantation and other surgical treatments for corneal disease.
During his SCCO residency, Dr. Jaynes focused on management of irregular corneas, anterior segment disease, ocular prosthetics, pediatric contact lenses and specialty contact lens designs. His contact lens concentration included scleral gas permeable lenses for anterior segment pathology, such as, keratoconus, dry eye syndrome, exposure keratopathy and post-surgical ectasias. He also received training in reform eyes for ocular disfigurement, and scleral shell prosthetic lenses.
Drs. Cavanaugh and Jaynes‘ practice specializes in care for patients with anterior segment eye disease who need medical treatment or surgery. Dr. Edrington says, “Going to Kansas to work with them will take our residents’ educational experience to the next level.”
Drs. Annie Lee and Andrew Vo, current residents at SCCO’s University Eye Center at Ketchum Health, are both graduates of UC Berkeley College of Optometry.
“Dr. Edrington provides us opportunities to learn from different practitioners and in different health care settings,” says Dr. Vo. “We learn from experiencing different ocular diseases and complex surgical cases as we observe excellent clinicians and corneal surgeons, the best in the nation. We are glad for these opportunities.”Drs. Lee and Vo recently spent two weeks working alongside four corneal surgeons at UC Irvine.
“All of our specialty eye care services at Ketchum Health are top-notch in providing patient care.” Dr. Edrington says. “SCCO’s faculty are highly regarded and outstanding teaching clinicians, many of whom also conduct strong clinical research.”
“Dr. Edrington has been an excellent mentor, always willing and there to help us,” Dr. Lee notes. “He’s given us the opportunity to write articles for journals. He’s well-connected. I feel lucky to have worked with him.” Dr. Lee adds that Dr. Edrington’s reputation was one of the factors that influenced her decision to do her residency at the University Eye Center at Ketchum Health.
Dr. Edrington is quick to add that it takes a team of people to provide residents with the kind of educational experiences and training required to grow into excellent clinicians. “Drs. Annie Chang, Elaine Chen, Justin Kwan, Dawn Lam, Eunice Myung Lee and Barry Weissman all play instrumental roles in the training of not only Drs. Vo and Lee, but also our past residents. At Ketchum Health our team of cornea and contact lens doctors are educational leaders in the areas of irregular cornea management, prosthetic lens fitting and care, dry eye treatment, myopia control and corneal disease. Without these esteemed colleagues, we couldn’t have grown the program into what it is today,” Dr. Edrington concludes.
The foresight of alumni like Drs. Tran and Miller – combined with exceptional faculty like Dr. Edrington – truly enrich the educational experience at SCCO and the University Eye Center at Ketchum Health.
“SCCO changed both my and Suzanne’s lives. The experience we each had there and the relationships we built, speak volumes to the quality of education and community at the College. I take solace in knowing that Suzanne’s memory will live on through this program and the resident experience will be enriched through this educational opportunity,” says Dr. Miller.
To learn more about gift opportunities to support the students and clinical care through SCCO, please contact Joan Rubio, Vice President for University Advancement at email@example.com.