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.
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.
Firstly, I would like to say that I do not regret my choice of going to ICO for optometry, but I do wish that I had considered some things before I got here. It most definitely would not have changed my choice in school (board scores, clinic, and lab equipment were my top concerns), but if I knew ahead of time, it would have at least mentally prepared me to leave my life in Toronto behind for such an extended period of time.
I could go on and on, and only focus on my positive experience here. However, let’s face it–this is a student blog, it should be real and reflect my true feelings about this school. So here is my one rant: Break week doesn’t always mean you get to go home to see your family, especially after second year.
First year, I was able to fly home fairly often. Every quarter, we get a week of break where we have no assignments, classes, or quizzes and can just relax. The courses were tough, but I always felt rejuvenated after visiting my loved ones back home in Toronto, even though time was always so short. Although holidays and breaks should not be the be-all-end-all of choosing an optometry school, it definitely should be taken into consideration if you have a significant other, kids, or other life priorities that may need your attention every once in a while, especially if you were an international student, because driving home isn’t always an option. Nine months of classes with a break every three months until summer doesn’t seem so brutal. Every time I’m mentally exhausted, I thought to myself, only three more months to go–> two more months to go–> one more month to go–> and before I know it, I’m home again, and then I’m back to Chicago, ready to work again for another three months.
So far in winter quarter of second year, we’ve learned how to use this:
A slit lamp.
…and how to use this:
A BIO (binocular indirect ophthalmoscope). This one’s a Keeler; the Heine BIO looks slightly different.
To check the front segment of the eyes, we don’t have to dilate our patient, but once we get to look at the lens, or the retina, we generally give them eye drops that enlarge their pupil so we can get a better view. However, before we get to do it on real patients in clinic, we have to be proficient in doing these things on our practical exams on our fellow students. This pretty much means that we’re at school even when we have no classes that day in order to practice.
Remember last quarter, when I wrote that second year isn’t as busy as first year?
Well, it got busy this quarter.
Expert Optics Lab
Who would have guessed we would still get field trips in grad school? It was definitely a pleasant surprise. The second years all hopped on a coach bus last week and visited an independent laboratory, Expert Optics. Even after four quarters of optics classes, we still have so much more to learn about lenses.
We were greeted by the president of the company, and got fed lunch before the tour got started.
So after lunch, and a short introduction to the lab, we got to take a tour of the place and see how lenses are treated (tinted, coated, cut, etc.), from when it was still a hockey puck sized lens blank to when it’s ready to be put into a patient’s frame.
Fun Fact: The lab had rounded corners between the wall and the floor so that dirt/dust don’t get trapped in between, and the facilities are cleaner.