The Illinois Eye Institute–located right onsite at ICO–offers training that students will not find anywhere else in the world. The IEI provides students with the patient volume, complexity and diverse care experiences that are integral to becoming a well-rounded clinician. With 61 fully equipped examination lanes, the IEI is one of the largest providers of vision and eye care services in the United States, offering students access to more than 100,000 patient visits each year.
All ICO students rotate through primary eye care at the IEI, as well as optometric specialty service areas, including advanced ophthalmic care, contact lenses, low vision and pediatrics/binocular vision. In the first year, students enter the Patient Advocate Program and assist patients in making their way through the IEI. Second-year students gain more experience through rotations in the IEI Community Screening Program and Fait Family Eyewear Center. Students take on more responsibility for patient care sessions in the third year, while also continuing the didactic program. The entire fourth year is comprised of hands-on patient care at IEI and rotations through affiliated externship sites, with the goal of developing primary care optometrists who can master any type of clinical environment.
The Illinois Eye Institute has four satellite clinics under the Chicago Vision Outreach program, a community-focused initiative launched in 2010 designed to bring quality eye care to the city’s under-served and uninsured populations and advance students’ training in the process. CVO is an extension of the Vision of Hope Health Alliance. Three CVO clinics partner with Chicago-based Federally Qualified Health Centers; these clinics primarily serve under- and uninsured adults and are staffed by an optometrist and an optician, who rotate their time between the three sites.