SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University on Tuesday said it would become an optometry campus extension program of the SUNY College of Optometry in New York City.
The effort by the two SUNY campuses seeks to increase the number of eye doctors in Central New York and Western New York.
The partnership creates an optometry campus extension program offering a doctorate of optometry degree, collaborative vision research, access to eye care, and economic opportunities in the region, Upstate said in its Tuesday announcement.
This partnership also “provides a more affordable option for aspiring eye-care professionals, especially those who live in New York State,” Upstate contends.
The program will “parallel” the doctor of optometry program currently offered by SUNY College of Optometry. The first class is anticipated to start in the fall of 2025 with an estimated 30 students, pending successful completion of all state and accrediting body approvals, Upstate said.
“We are addressing several critical issues through this partnership — the future of health care delivery with an interdisciplinary focus, collaborative research opportunities to improve eye and vision care, and the regional workforce shortage,” Dr. David Heath, president for SUNY College of Optometry, said. “Being part of the SUNY System provides unique opportunities to participate in solving challenges and we are looking forward to partnering with Dr. Dewan and his team to provide a greater resource for the upstate region.”
Reports from area optometrists and ophthalmologists indicate that many eye-care positions remain vacant “putting pressure on an already lean workforce” and leaving some communities without ready access to eye and vision care, Upstate said.
“We are delighted to bring the world-class expertise of SUNY Optometry to enrich Upstate’s internationally-recognized Department of Ophthalmology and Center for Vision Research. By serving as their extension campus, we will increase the number of eye care professionals available to serve our communities,” Dr. Mantosh Dewan, president of Upstate Medical University, said. “This also fulfills Upstate’s goal to deepen partnerships with other SUNY schools and to increase the breadth of health professional programs offered by Upstate Medical University.”