Upstate Medical University to Offer Doctor of Optometry Program

Partnership with SUNY College of Optometry in Manhattan to ‘addresses the critical need for more eye doctors in the region’

SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY College of Optometry will join forces to improve access to health care through growing the number of eye doctors in Central and Western New York.

The partnership between the two SUNY campuses leverages the strengths of both institutions through creating an optometry campus extension program offering a doctorate of optometry degree, collaborative vision research, access to eye care and economic opportunities in the region.

According to SUNY Upstate, this partnership addresses the critical need for more eye doctors in the region and provides a more affordable option for aspiring eye care professionals, especially those who live in New York state.

“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,” said David A. Heath, president for SUNY College of Optometry. “Being part of the SUNY system provides unique opportunities to participate in solving challenges and we are looking forward to partnering with Dr. [Mantosh] 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.

Further, a recent survey conducted by SUNY College of Optometry found that 25% of optometrists practicing in the region anticipate retiring within the next five years, an increase over the previous survey conducted in 2010.

As the only school of optometry in New York state, with its Manhattan campus, located 250 miles from Syracuse, this partnership offers an alternate environment and a potentially more affordable option for students, especially those who already live in New York state, and wish to train at a top institution outside of a metropolitan area.

“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,” said physician Mantosh Dewan, president of Upstate Medical University. “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.”

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.

Top image: Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, left, and SUNY Optometry President David Heath.The first optometry class at Upstate Medical University is anticipated to start in the fall of 2025 with an estimated 30 students.