ICO Blog

Illinois College of Optometry's Official Blog

Navigation Menu

A Girls’ Step-by-Step Guide: How to Prepare for Eye Ball

Posted by on Mar 15, 2013 in Blogs | 3 comments

We’re having our annual Eye Ball in a couple weeks at the Museum of Science and Industry:

Museum of Science and Industry

Kwong Yee Cheng/Creative Commons

I think Eye Ball is one of the commonalities between optometry schools all over the world. My friends studying optometry in Canada, Hong Kong and Australia all have one. All the students and some faculty dress up in fancy clothes get together for a night of fun in between cramming for various tests and practicals.

At the 2012 Eye Ball, in Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens

Last year, I scrambled everywhere looking for a dress. Lucky for me, I was able to get the red one you see above last minute on clearance for just $25! I promised myself I wouldn’t let that happen again, and shop early for the next Eye Ball.

Read More

Rating Chicago’s Pizza Joints

Rating Chicago’s Pizza Joints

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in Blogs | 7 comments

I’m very lucky this year, as I got to celebrate my birthday during break week when we don’t have anything to study for (unlike blogger Michelle!). My friends came to Chicago to visit me, and we decided to try out the food that Chicago is best known for: deep dish pizza. When it comes to eating, the number-one thing anyone should do while visiting Chicago is to try the pizza. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so close to Wisconsin, but if you’re a cheese lover, our pizzerias are extremely generous with their portions of cheese.

We couldn’t decide on a single pizza place to try out, so we decided to choose three popular spots and decide which one served up the best pie. We settled on Lou Malnati’sConnie’s and Giordano’s.

First stop: Lou Malnati’s


The Lou Malnati's menu. One of the few times the real thing looked better than in the pictures.

The Lou Malnati’s menu–one of the few times the real thing looked better than in the pictures

We visited Lou’s first because  it was on the way to the Shedd Aquarium. I guess it depends on which of the 35 locations you go to, but at the South Loop restaurant, the decor was like any other average restaurant. The atmosphere was casual and there wasn’t a line, even at the height of the lunch hour. We ordered the Malnati Chicago Classicbutter crust deep dish, with spinach, sausage and mushrooms.



My slice of pizza in its full cheesy delicious glory

I wish I could say that the pictures do it justice, but they don’t. The cook time for the pizza was 30-40 minutes, but it was worth it. The cheese was perfectly melted and stringy, topped with fresh, chunky tomato sauce. The toppings added great flavor but didn’t overpower the cheese or sauce. I’m not normally a crust-lover, but the butter crust was flaky and soft like a delicious freshly baked biscuit. It was so good that I cleaned my plate. I must note that I’ve tried Lou’s on other occasions, like ordering it for delivery when I was too lazy to go outside. It was good in the past, but not like this time. I’ve also tried on another occasion to order the classic without the butter crust, and again, it wasn’t the same. The only complaint I have is that the pizza seemed smaller than the average medium that I would get from any other pizza shop.

Read More

Optometry School Survival Kit

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Blogs | 4 comments

We’re in the middle of finals right now. First year finals were rough, but maybe because some of it was still review from undergrad, it still went great for me. I always pictured things would get easier, but alas, I was wrong. A wise upper year student once told me, “It doesn’t get easier, we just get more and more used to things.” I must say, after finishing half of my second year, I couldn’t agree more. Part of it is really getting into a routine that works, and finding ways to be more efficient.

So here are a few tips that help me succeed to the best of my ability–or at least make my student life at ICO a little easier.

Disclaimer: The following things have been helpful for me personally, but effects may vary from person to person.

1. Invest in stationery and writing utensils
You are going to be writing a lot. Believe me, I used to type up notes, but that just isn’t fast enough, and with the paper slides that gets printed out and put in your mailbox, I would say the majority of students here handwrite notes on the slides as the professors give lectures. Good stationary could perhaps make studying notes more fun to read. It  doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Ebay, Amazon, and even certain stationary stores sometimes have things on sale (like stacks of lined paper for just a penny, or 10 white-outs for $10).

Staedtler Fineliner marker-pens for flow charts and simple diagrams
I’ve had my eyes on these for about two years during undergrad before I finally decided to buy them. They were a bit more pricey back then, but I can honestly say I’ll probably keep buying them as they run out. They don’t bleed through the page, they are ultra-fine, colors are bright, and every stroke comes out sharp and crisp for those times when I really need to outline something. I actually prefer these over highlighters sometimes, just because they don’t even dry out if you forget to put the cap back on.


They even have a stand case to make picking colors and taking the pens out a lot easier.

Fineliner diagrams and flow charts

Twistable crayons to replace highlighters
I really wish I tried these out when I was studying for anatomy last year, since I spent so much money on coloring anatomy pictures with highlighters. I would recommend buying these in the brighter color sets and use them as highlighting tools instead. Again, they don’t bleed, they don’t dry out! Better yet, if you need to sketch images for ocular disease class, or any other class that’s heavily visual, they work great. The only down side is that you can’t sharpen these, so it’s hard to do any fine outlines of anything. However, if you’re quickly jotting down notes in class, you’re probably not going to have time to sharpen anything.

Here’s a comparison between what my notes used to look like, and what my notes look like with these awesome crayons:


Before: bland notes with dried-up highlighters


After: many colors to choose from in order to easily color code notes and draw pictures, and no more drying out or bleeding

Read More

Dispensing Shifts

Dispensing Shifts

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Blogs | 2 comments

Most of the time I dread dispensing, I’ll be honest. Not because it’s not enjoyable or anything like that, but because I’m one of the lucky few that has it scheduled at just the right time. I dispense right before a really difficult exam, so those are valuable study hours that I have to spend dispensing instead. I enjoy interacting with patients, but I’m always worried out about not putting my all into studying. That feeling usually goes away once I’m actually at the Illinois Eye Institute’s Fait Family Eyewear Center, though. It makes me happy to see patients, especially the adorable little kids that come visit us to get their first pair of glasses.

Since it takes a couple hours for an eye exam, and everyone starts and finishes around the same time, patients generally show up in sudden rushes. So as student clinicians, we watch the front desk like a hawk and help each patient as they come in order of their arrival time. When there aren’t any patients, we perform lensometry to check glasses prescriptions, and make sure that the glasses aren’t defective before we call them in to pick up their glasses.

The pricey rack of frames

Read More

A Very Long Dilation

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Blogs | 0 comments

I have my practical in a week from now on performing BIO (binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy), three-mirror gonioscopy, Goldmann tonometry, and 78/90D (biomicroscopic indirect ophthalmoscopy). So like anyone else who has their practical this coming week (half the class), I had to go and sit as a patient, as well as make time to practice on other students. This awesome Monday, I had a pharmacology exam that I had to pull yet another all-nighter to study for (there were about 100 new drugs, and some more old drugs/mechanisms/toxicities/etc. on this exam). I was extremely tired, but I knew I had to practice doing more dilated exams, so my roommate and I decided to go to open lab and just practice on each other before we head home after class. I figured there’s nothing to lose, since it should wear off in a few hours, and I didn’t see my patient until later that evening.

It wasn’t until I was on my way to PCP that I realized my vision was funny. I was dilated for six hours! What was worse, I couldn’t see very well when I was doing my makeup and I ended up looking a little bit awkward (thank goodness my lab partner fixed it for me before too many people noticed). Fortunately, my patient arrived later, and most of my dilation wore off before the patient arrived, and I had my partner there to help me through it.

Read More