ICO is dedicated solely to the student of optometry.

The Illinois Eye Institute, one of the largest eye care providers in the United States, is located on-site at ICO. Our students see patients in their very first year. The city of Chicago provides extraordinary patient volume, complexity, and case diversity, with over 100,000 annual visits. All ICO students rotate through primary care, advanced ophthalmic care, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, and pediatrics/binocular vision.

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, our grads feel comfortable practicing anywhere.

Don’t just take our word for it! In this video series, our students and faculty offer a close, personal look at ICO’s clinical experience:

Complex Pathology from Day One

Sabreen Onallah’s very first patient at the Illinois Eye Institute in Chicago was a rare case. From day one, Sabreen gained hands-on experience with complex pathology. She made ICO her first choice, and now, feels prepared to practice optometry in the real world.

Convenient Access to Facilities

Joseph Ridenour needed extra time to perfect a clinical skill at the Illinois College of Optometry. Thanks to convenient access to ICO’s high-tech facilities, he felt confident during his assessment.


Joseph not only learned, but also excelled. He can now transfer his skills to patients, and eventually, the NBEO exams.

Confidence in Our Doctors

Colin Lee, a second-year student at the Illinois College of Optometry, is quickly becoming an expert clinician through our Advanced Clinical Program. 


ICO offers unmatched, hands-on experience with complex pathology in the Illinois Eye Institute. Colin feels confident in his ability to diagnose and treat eye disease as a doctor.

Leaders in Our Community

Dr. Leonard Messner, Executive Director of the Illinois Eye Institute, guides ICO faculty, staff, and students at the largest eyecare center in the United States.


The IEI is a “safety net” provider for people in need. There is nothing more important to ICO than serving local patients in the city of Chicago. Dr. Messner considers this essential relationship between clinic and community an honor and a privilege.

Externships Around the Globe

Beth Rosenthal had a tough decision to make for her fourth year at the Illinois College of Optometry. Where in the world would she do her externships? 


ICO offers over 155 externship options around the world. Choosing to serve within a VA Hospital in Florida, Bethany learned that even though she was off-site and independent, she wasn’t alone.