Time-Saving Tech Increases Access to Eye Health

New equipment at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center Eye Clinic will help reduce patient wait times and increase availability of ophthalmology services

Many eye diseases don’t have any symptoms. That's why access to annual, routine eye exams – where potential issues can be detected early – is so essential.

Dr. Hilary Fazzone (right) working at the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center Eye Clinic. Photo Courtesy of Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center

The Eye Clinic at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center (CS-HHC) is the only health center-based ophthalmology clinic in Greater New Haven primarily serving clients from underserved communities who are either uninsured, or who have Medicaid and Medicare as their primary insurance. The Clinic offers everything from general eye exams to more specialized services, including neuro-ophthalmology, glaucoma testing, pediatrics and evaluations of diabetics (and those at risk for diabetes) for diabetic retinopathy.

The COVID pandemic created a backlog of patient visits to the Eye Clinic, resulting in a three- to four-month wait for non-emergency visits. In order to reduce its waiting list, CS-HHC made plans to hire additional part-time staff (ophthalmologists and ophthalmology technicians) and to purchase time-saving equipment — such as an auto-refractor, that can “read” patients’ eyes and automatically figure out their eyeglasses prescription — which will lessen the time spent by ophthalmologists in manually determining patients’ eyeglasses prescriptions, thereby freeing up time to serve more patients.

These important time-saving strategies are now in motion at CS-HHC, thanks in part to recent funding from The Community Foundation. In late 2021 and early 2022, The Foundation’s Board of Directors awarded multi-year funding to several nonprofit organizations in Greater New Haven that serve people with visual impairments — made possible by funds established decades ago in which donors state a preference that grants be made specifically for the benefit of the visually impaired. (Learn more about the funds and the grants.)

“We are so very happy and grateful for receiving this wonderful grant for our Ophthalmology Department," says CS-HHC Eye Clinic Director Dr. Hilary Fazzone. "Our goal is to help patients who suffer from advanced cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and many other ophthalmologic problems. This funding will allow us to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that will help us provide the best possible care for our patients."

The Eye Clinic is just one of many valuable health care services that contribute to Cornell Scott-Hill Health's "community of caring," working to "measurably improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve by providing excellent and compassionate care, accessible to all,” as the mission statement reads. Established in 1968 in a collaboration with Yale School of Medicine as the first community health center in Connecticut, CS-HHC has a long history of serving New Haven neighborhoods, and has since expanded to provide health care services to residents of Hamden, West Haven, the Naugatuck Valley and more. Learn more about CS-HHC.