DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Cheyanne Lester wore a patch over her eye as a kid.
It helped the Epworth, Iowa, native overcome amblyopia, a condition commonly known as "lazy eye."
She also wore glasses and underwent other amblyopia treatments as a patient at Medical Associates Clinic.
"Now, she's treating and helping to diagnose kids with the same disorder," Dr. Timothy Daley, Medical Associates ophthalmologist, told the Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/1edjzPb).
Lester has come full circle, treating lazy eyes as an orthoptist at Medical Associates since this fall. Orthoptists are considered experts in strabismus (eye misalignment), amblyopia (lazy eye) and diplopia (double vision).
Lester also holds a special distinction: Her scores on certification examinations in her field of orthoptics were the highest in the nation and earned her a prestigious national honor: the Richard G. Scobee Memorial Award.
"We're very proud of Cheyanne's accomplishment," said Tara Bragg, director of the orthoptic training program in the pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus departments of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics "I don't think anyone goes in expecting to win the Scobee — it's a huge honor and surprise."
Lester is one of 13 Scobee award winners produced by the University of Iowa since the honor's inception in 1978.
"It's incredible," Daley said. "It's fantastic considering her background."
Lester, 25, knew from an early age that her future would focus on eye health.
"Ever since I was little, I was interested in the ophthalmology field," she said.
As a Western Dubuque High School student, Lester worked in an optometry shop. She studied eye health at Iowa, culminating with a two-year orthoptics training completed in June. Then, she starred in her tests.
"The exam is an overview of our entire curriculum and is quite difficult," Bragg said. "Cheyanne passed the written portion of the exam in June and took the practical portion of her exam in Nashville on Oct. 4."
Lester's award was announced at the National American Association of Certified Orthoptists meeting in New Orleans last month.
"Orthoptists throughout the United States receive outstanding training," Bragg said, "which makes the award quite competitive and that much more of an accomplishment."
Cynthia Tenney, of Farley, Iowa, appreciates Lester's work with her infant son Dominic.
"She's a wonderful young lady," Tenney said. "She works with much professionalism, and she approaches her work with joy."
Lester relies on her childhood experiences to relate to patients.
"She put us at ease for the whole process," Tenney said. "She's very good with kids and their parents."
Lester is thrilled she can help treat people with the condition she had, with a clinic where she received her own care.
"I never thought there would be a position here for an orthoptist," she said.
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com