ICO Blog

Illinois College of Optometry's Official Blog

Navigation Menu

Read the Last Page First

Read the Last Page First

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in Blogs

You’ve been told never to read the last page first. It ruins the book, of course. Instead of wondering if Harry Potter defeats Voldemort as you read every suspenseful word, or having doubts as to whether Frodo is able to destroy the ring, you already know. You ruined the entire book by succumbing to your curiosity.

Well folks, I let the curiosity get the best of me, too. So I’m warning you: this post is going to be chock full of spoiler alerts.

SPOILER ALERT: In 3 years and some odd months, I’m going to become an optometrist. In the midst of studying for three exams this week (turns out that it’s just a warm up for next week,) I started losing sight of the bigger picture. It’s easy to forget that you’re not a coffee guzzling robot and that you actually have a purpose in life; this is the beginning, but there is, indeed, an end.

SPOILER ALERT: I will make it out on the other side. The last time I doubted this truth was about 20 minutes ago. I worried I would have to drag my bed to class with me today because there was no physical way I was able to leave the covers. I was wrong. I was able to not only leave the covers, but open my notes to do some last minute studying (err, cramming) before our exam.

SPOILER ALERT: My life will not end if I make a mistake. Apparently, I’m human and mistakes happen. I might answer #11 incorrectly on the Anatomy exam (even though I know the answer,) or I might stay up too late the night before a test and pay for it the next morning as I’m pep talking my extraocular muscles to keep my eyes open. I might even repeat a mistake I vowed never to repeat… but guess what? Life continues.

SPOILER ALERT: Optometry school is a TON of work, but I read the last page. It turns out that I’m already making some of the best memories I’ll ever have. Instead of only referring to optometry school as a lot of work, the word “fun” will also be in that sentence. Apparently, I’ve already met some lifelong friends, and apparently, I will miss being here once I graduate.

I’ve never been more excited to read the last page first as I am now. This is the beginning of the rest of my life. While I know it’s going to be a wild ride, and I know there will be a lot of 90 degree drops and ambushing loop-d-loops, I’ll have that sweet ending to look forward to in: “Celina Goes to Optometry School.”



Read More

ICO Blog Appreciation

ICO Blog Appreciation

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Blogs

I went through my fair share of looking up which potential optometry schools I wanted to apply to. I have to mention how much the ICO blog played a role in my choice.

Yes, we all read the booklets and brochures that ICO mails us, and we listen to the admissions recruiters speak to us, but the entire experience wouldn’t be complete without the ICO blog. The ICO blog features many students from each academic year expressing their stories and thoughts to the public. Their words are pretty much golden.

The bloggers live and breathe ICO every single day. They are the ones who either had to move many states or a country away to continue their education here. They had to make sacrifices from their families and friends to focus more on their schoolwork and well-being. When you see it all come together in a single blog post, you can see how being at ICO has affected the individual and how ICO does a very great job at piecing you together to become an optometrist. Even being in the city of Chicago has had a different effect on students.

I am and will always be inspired by the upperclassmen and optometrists whom have graduated before me. Mind you, I probably read your posts a thousand times before I entered the doors of ICO! I’m even in awe of the blog posts of my own classmates.

There are a lot of great things we have to say about ICO, and this blog does a great job at helping us express it all. Even though we spend most of our time in the lecture halls or studying in the library, there is something different about ICO that allows us to be proud and mindful of the institution that we chose; you can clearly learn why through all the blog posts we have here. We could have been at any optometry school, but we all chose ICO.

We hope to share that with you on this blog.

Read More

ICO in Florida

ICO in Florida

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Blogs

Last April, I received an invitation to an all-expenses paid conference with the Vision Care Institute in Florida. Free airfare, hotel, and conference in the Sunshine State? Sign me up!

Fast forward a few months later. It was late August and the conference was finally here.

Along with six of my classmates, I flew to Jacksonville for two days to attend the conference with the Vision Care Institute (TVCI.) TVCI is home to Vistakon, a Johnson and Johnson company, that produces the Acuvue products that I have grown up using and now prescribe in clinic.

On the Thursday when I arrived, a driver picked me up and delivered me to the Sheraton Hotel, my home for the next two nights. After quickly checking in and receiving my welcome packet, myself and a few others took to Jax Beach for brunch and fun in the sun. With only a welcome reception on schedule for that night, we saw no reason not to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the nearby beaches in the Sunshine State.

The welcome reception began with cocktail hour snacking on coconut shrimp and empanadas while meeting some of the other 30 or so optometry students from other schools. Once the doors to the reception hall opened, we took our seats, listened to a welcome address from Dr. Millicent Knight and Dr. Charissa Lee, then helped ourselves to a plethora of food.

The morning of the conference began with breakfast at the hotel followed by a drive to the  Vision Care Institute and a second breakfast. TVCI was huge, modern, and beautifully designed. Having signed their secrecy form promising not to share company details, I took a single picture outside, then said goodbye to my camera for some hours.

The conference began with a couple of lectures from optometrists on practicing in the real world and succeeding in patient care. Topics of discussions included handling the tough stuff in patient care and prescribing for presbyopic patients. We took a lunch break and got to chat with some of the ODs on an informal basis.

Following lunch, we broke up into three groups to rotate through three activities. In the first activity, we worked in pairs to fit two different presbyopic patients in the Acuvue Moist multifocals. During the second activity, we learned about the different uses for the Acuvue Define lenses and tried them on ourselves. Because of the enhancing pigment at the limbal region, the lenses are also perfect for aging patients and those with arcus. We also learned about the level of UV protection Acuvue products have in comparison to other familiar soft lenses. The last activity included a tour of the large manufacturing facilities. Seeing how much thought and engineering goes into the production of a single lens was pretty neat. The program ended with a panel and Q&A with the five optometrists that had been with us for the day: Drs. Dortheanne Roberts, Edward Wygnoik, Drew Dayton, Patricia Poma-Nowinski, and Sharokh Kapadia.

At the end of the seminar, we were taken to Seasons 52 for a fancy dinner complete with flatbread, salad, entrees, and some incredible desserts. During dinner, we were given certificates celebrating our participation and completion of the program. Each of us getting called Dr. So-and-so as we received our certificates was icing on the cake.

IMG_5554 copy

Beautiful palm trees and a lovely yellow house on the beach


White sandy beaches  


Atlantic Ocean 


Pretty dinner reception set up on arrival day 


The Vision Care Institute 


With my ICO crew at the Sheraton


Dinner at Seasons 52 on a very long table post conference


Salmon dinner


At dinner we were called doctors and received certificates for completing the program 


Pina coladas at the beach at our post-conference celebration

Read More

The Money Making Class

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Blogs

The first book I bought for Optometry school

The first book I bought for Optometry school

Second year is here. With a quick review of all the tests and tricks we learned last year, we are ready to learn even more. While we have started learning about near vision, binocular vision, etc., there is one class that I think all Optometrists should be excited to take. I call it the Money Making Class.

Now, you may be wondering, “What is the Money Making Class? Do we learn how to print the greens and the loonies (we can’t exclude the Canadians)?” No, the Money Making Class is also known as the Ophthlamic Optics Course taught for the first time by Dr. Goodfellow. I call it the Money Making Class because a lot of the money that we will hopefully one day make (dang loans!) will come from the sales of glasses in our future offices.

Face Shapes and Glasses Guidelines

Face Shapes and Glasses Guidelines

So far, we have learned all about the anatomy of glasses (I mean spectacles, as we optometrists like to say.) We have learned about the different types of materials the frames can be, and the lenses, and which glasses should be used for Dress glasses, Athletic glasses, or Safety glasses. I can tell you when the MRP and OC should be aligned, and calculate an image jump (However, I haven’t even taken this exam yet, so maybe give me a few more weeks before asking.) We even talk about the shape of someone’s head and which glasses we should give the person. Round glasses on a round face? Big no no!

Unfortunately, reading teen magazines didn’t help me that much; I still find it hard matching a shape to a face. With a little bit of practice, I’m sure I could get an article into Cosmo telling women all around the world what type of glasses are best for them! The bright side is, if I don’t become the next big fashion editor, I know I will be ok because I took the Money Making Class.


Read More

ICO Family

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Blogs

As I continue on my journey to becoming an optometrist, my experience would not be complete without the people I’m surrounded by every day here at ICO. Although I haven’t met EVERYONE in my class yet, I have to say: our bonds are growing strongly at a fast pace. Usually, I’m not the one to develop friendships this quickly, but I tell myself that I will be in the same lecture hall, labs, and living area as my classmates for 3 years and 9 months. Why not develop these friendships now?

Thanks to the students who never allowed the class to starve by telling us when there was free food in the RC kitchen. Thanks to those who went the extra mile by compiling flashcards and study guides and sharing them with the entire class. You guys are the real MVP! I can walk into the RC lounge and find my classmates for help on material. I can also find friends to play board games with during our study breaks. I’m never alone to eat at the cafeteria during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A group of us even started the hashtag #ICOFoodies on Instagram to document our foodie adventures in Chicago.

Not only will we be spending all this time going through the ICO program together, but we’ll also be future colleagues for the rest of our optometric lives. During orientation, the faculty and staff told us that, in the lecture hall, we’ll find our best friends, our bridesmaids/groomsmen, and possibly even a significant other. This made everyone laugh, but I can only imagine what the future holds for everyone.

I let my new friends know that if they ever want to visit the Dallas/Fort Worth area back in Texas, my home is open to them. I would gladly be their personal tour guide, and they say the same to me. I now have future vacation spots in Canada, Boston, California, and more! Being here at ICO gave me more Canadian friends than I have ever had in my life, which was zero to none back at home. It’s a good feeling to know that you are welcomed and accepted into their lives.

To the Class of 2019, let’s not hesitate to say hello to each other in passing or make small talk while we’re struggling to work the non-contact tonometry equipment (air puff test for all those who don’t know what that entails.) Let’s keep everyone in the loop. We should all vow to not leave anyone hanging for the next 3 years of our professional careers. We’re all in this together, and for the future more to come!

Read More

A Look into the Past

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Blogs

On a Saturday morning, many like to sleep in, some hit the gym, and others like to catch up on their to-do lists.  I decided to leave the house, grab a cup of coffee, and study the morning away.  Normally I would stay at home on a Saturday morning, even to study.  But now that our son is 2 months, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t get much done.  I am so grateful for my supportive husband who willingly stays home with the kiddos on days like this.  With my Starbucks gift card in hand and my optics textbook in my bag, I started off for my dose of caffeine.  Contemplating with Coffee

As I made my way through chapter 5, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation about ICO from what must have been a first year student.  I heard phrases such as “food from the cafeteria” to “we have finals on Saturdays” to “White Coat Ceremony.”  That took me back to a year ago.

This time last year, the class of 2018 had already taken two exams- Biochemistry and Human Anatomy.  We had already received our white coats, and most of us had our daily routine figured out.  It has been a whole year.  I’m not sure about the rest of my classmates, but it feels like first year was a totally different life- a life that we survived.

For the first time, I learned that having two to three exams a week was normal.  That a 3-inch binder wouldn’t fit all my anatomy notes.  That the normal course-load for winter quarter could change, forcing you to take neuro and anatomy at the same time.  That practicals were scary, and I could never practice enough.  That pregnancy brain was not a valid excuse to do poorly on an exam.  That snow days, although rare, do exist in grad school.  But most importantly, I learned that all the pain of first year was worth it.

Class of 2019, you now have your white coats.  You have your routines.  It won’t be easy, and the light at the end of the tunnel may not be very bright, but you will get through.  It’s worth every moment you spend listening to lectures, studying for exams, and getting ready for practicals. 

Second year is a little different.  Everything seems to flow a little better.  Instead of school just being “school,” it has become more of a way of life.  Instead of rushing to finish studying, the textbooks seem more interesting.  Maybe it’s because I know summer break is a thing of the past, and it’s full-time from here on out.  But I think it’s mostly because I view this more as a career and less as class or homework.  I am now becoming an optometrist.

I think my family is starting to realize this, too.  This afternoon, after the studying was over, my daughter and I decided to have some eye-related fun: googly craft eyes and “Parents” magazine.  In the midst of the studying, let’s not forget to goof around.  Congrats on receiving your white coats, Class of 2019, and let the fun begin!

Googly Cat

Googly Fam



Read More