During your first two years, you will receive clinical training that will help acclimate you to the patient care environment. Initial experiences in the Community Screening Program and the Clinical Assistant Program provide a foundation for direct patient care in primary eye care.
The second and third year programs more fully integrate students into direct patient care activities. As your knowledge progresses, the cases you see will also become more complex.
Fourth year is all clinical. This is your chance to deepen your knowledge and to specialize in your chosen optometric field.
Every course takes you closer to your doctor of optometry.
We have divided your ICO courses into six tracks. Each course will build on one another and bring you closer to your doctor of optometry. You will begin in a lecture-laboratory setting and move toward a one-to-one relationship between student and patient during your second and third year.
Note: For those joining ICO before completing an undergraduate degree, you may also graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Science. To learn more about this degree visit our pre-health advisor page.
Biomedical and Vision Sciences (BVS)
These courses provide the basic science knowledge needed to build upon in future years. For example: anatomy, physiology, optics, and vision science. These courses are taken primarily during the first and second years of the program.
Ocular Disease (OCD)
These courses provide the student knowledge regarding ocular and systemic disease that is needed to adequately care for patients. These courses run through the second and third years of the program.
Primary Optometric Practice (POP)
This category teaches the skills used in a comprehensive eye examination. The courses begin right away in first year, and continue through the second year. In general, skills are taught in the order they will be administered during an eye examination.
Patient Care (PCE)
PCE hours are spent rotating through our various clinical departments: Primary Care, Eyewear Center, Contact Lens, Vision Rehabilitation, Pediatrics/Binocular Vision, Advanced Care, and Urgent Care. These rotations begin during the first professional year and become more intensive as you progress.
Specialty Optometric Practice (SOP)
This portion of the curriculum emphasizes eye examination skills particular to optometric specialty areas: contact lens, pediatrics, and vision rehabilitation. These courses are taught in the second and third professional years.
Practice Management Ethics (PME)
Finally, this category explores the ethical, legal, administrative, and clinical core issues of practice management to assure that the optometrist provides the health care consumer with quality, accessible, and cost-efficient eye health and vision care. These courses cover the professional ethics and responsibilities, professional fundamentals, knowledge and skills, financial components, and administrative requirements necessary for the practice of optometry and office management.
Your four-year curriculum:
Below is a year-by-year breakdown of the required curriculum. Please note, elective courses, including topics like financial literacy and practice management, can be added on to each year:
FIRST PROFESSIONAL YEAR
Students enter the Clinical Assistant Program and
assist patients in making their way through the Illinois Eye Institute (IEI).
SECOND PROFESSIONAL YEAR
THIRD PROFESSIONAL YEAR
FOURTH PROFESSIONAL YEAR
* Students are assigned to one of these activities each quarter. The quarter may vary from student to student.