Public Release: 

UH optometrist wins Distinguished Service Award in eye care

Pat Segu honored by vision care section of American Public Health Association

University of Houston

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IMAGE: Pat Segu, O.D., works with a UH optometry resident examining a patient at one of the clinics Segu directs. view more

Credit: David Gee

HOUSTON, Dec. 8, 2015 - The University of Houston College of Optometry's Pat Segu, O.D., was honored with a prestigious distinguished service award for the continued high quality of service she has demonstrated in the area of public health eye and vision care.

Segu, a clinical associate professor, received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Vision Care Section of the American Public Health Association (VCS-APHA). Established in 1981, this award is the highest honor the section can bestow.

Her work as director of optometry services at the Good Neighbor Healthcare Center, clinic director for the Kids Vision for Life Greater Houston Coalition's See to Succeed Program and establishment of the Student Public Health Vision Care Association (SPHVCA) at the UH College of Optometry (UHCO) earned her this high honor. She was presented with the award in a ceremony at the APHA's Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago last month.

The mission of APHA's Vision Care Section is to promote health and well-being with an emphasis on vision and eye health through interdisciplinary partnerships that involve collaboration between eye care providers and various public health advocates. The section serves as an advocate to ensure equality in and access to vision and eye health care, as well as to ensure inclusion of vision care in public health policy. Under the guidance of Segu, who is currently the membership chair, the section won first place in the membership drive competition this year.

Segu believes strongly in the importance of altruism, working tirelessly on community service projects and to improve access to health care. As director of the Good Neighbor Eye Clinic, an outreach program in the Heights that provides affordable health care to low-income and working families in the Houston area, Segu sees firsthand the obstacles to care. She says patients often cannot afford the medical, dental or eye care they need. Working in community-based clinics like this opened her eyes to the reality of other peoples' struggle and the daily challenges they face. In addition to benefitting the community, the clinic also serves as a training arena for fourth-year optometry students and residents.

In 2010, she began volunteering as the medical director of the See to Succeed Program, with the support of UHCO, which provides free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to children ages six to 18 and offers medical oversight, personnel space and supplies needed for the project. During the 2013-2014 academic year, more than 8,670 children received eye exams, with more than 7,900 pairs of glasses being dispensed at no cost in 2014.

In 2015, the See to Succeed project delivered glasses during National Public Health Week. With more than 1,700 eye exams provided to youth in need, approximately 90 percent of those seen needed eyewear. The end result was 1,607 pairs of glasses being delivered to students in the Houston, Alief and Lamar Consolidated independent school districts, as well as to area charter schools. Segu hopes to take the See to Succeed program statewide and perhaps even nationally.

Also very important to her is the education of future optometrists. Segu helped establish the Student Public Health Vision Care Association as part of a pilot program to increase student engagement within the VCS-APHA. Through this, students have the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program, receive funding to attend conferences, and gain access to research and leadership opportunities.

In 2013, she received the Texas Optometric Association Educator of the Year award for her diligence and commitment to both the profession and her students. A fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and 1992 alumna of UH, Segu also serves on the advisory board of the Eye Care for Kids Foundation and serves on the board of Prevent Blindness Texas. As the 2014 recipient of UH's Teaching Excellence Award in Community Engagement, Segu is well-known for her countless outreach efforts.

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About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 42,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. For more information about UH, visit the university's newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.

About the UH College of Optometry

Since 1952, the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) has educated and trained optometrists to provide the highest quality vision care. One of only 22 optometry schools in the country, UHCO offers a variety of degree programs, including Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), a combined Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). UHCO serves an average of 50,000 patients a year through The University Eye Institute and its external clinics located in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions.

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