STEM brings attention to vision

By Brian Guttman

Eyes and how to protect them was the topic at Wednesday’s STEM Cafe.

The main speaker was Elizabeth Gaillard, a presidential research professor. The presentation was sponsored by STEM Outreach and offered the community the chance to enjoy a meal at Eduardo’s, 214 E. Lincoln Highway, while learning about blindness and how to prevent it.

“The beauty of the STEM Cafe is that it’s very informal, it’s very relaxed,” Gaillard said. “People can come in, get a sandwich and a beer or whatever, and listen to some aspect of science.”

The presentation was a followup to a March 26 STEM Cafe which focused on how the eye works.

“We promote science, technology, engineering and math throughout the community. That is our mission,” said Judith Dymond, Outreach and Engagement associate.

The event was about the retina, but it also discussed common causes of blindness. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in the developed world.

After the presentation, Gaillard answered questions from the audience about vision impairment.

“I was impressed with the questions, and liked the questions and answers period better, I think, than the presentation,” said Richard Cooler, of Sycamore, 71.

Vision protection was also a topic at the STEM Cafe. Gaillard offered tips for protecting eyes: have an antioxidant-rich diet, quit smoking, wear sunglasses or a visor and keep a healthy cardiovascular system. STEM Outrech will host STEM Fest Oct. 19.