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ICO is dedicated solely to the student of optometry.

This focus allows the most realistic, thorough clinical experience possible. The Illinois Eye Institute, located on-site at ICO, offers a depth of training that can’t be found anywhere else.

Our students see patients in their very first year- and when we say ‘patients,’ we don’t mean fellow students or a few suburban families. Our vibrant, city environment provides unmatched patient volume, complexity, and ophthalmic case diversity. With 139 fully equipped examination lanes, the IEI is one of the largest providers of vision and eye care services in the United States. Students have access to more than 100,000 patient visits each year, and they don’t just observe. First years put their skills to the test on real people who really need their care. These experiences shape well-rounded optometrists who are best prepared for anything.

All ICO students rotate through primary eye care at the IEI, as well as optometric specialty service areas: advanced ophthalmic care, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, and pediatrics/binocular vision.

  • First year: Students enter the Clinical Assistant Program and assist patients in making their way through the IEI.
  • Second year: Students become directly responsible for patients, expanding their presence through rotations in the IEI Community Screening Program and Fait Family Eyewear Center.
  • Third year: Students take on more responsibility for patient care sessions, while also continuing the didactic program.
  • Fourth year: Students leave the classroom environment entirely, pursuing hands-on patient care at IEI and rotations through affiliated externship sites.

In addition to the IEI, students have clinical opportunities in the Eyepod, and are exposed to a wide variety of health care delivery systems through ICO’s affiliations with organizations such as Chicago Public Schools and the University of Chicago. With training in so many settings, ICO grads feel comfortable practicing anywhere, from private offices to national chains.