So in terms of labs, I think third years get the best ones. We have a new course offered at ICO: Ophthalmic Lasers. Dr. Chaglasian organized an awesome lab with the help of the doctors at TLC Laser Eye Centers to give us first-hand experience working with lasers. We had several different stations set up and got to learn the components of each different type of laser refractive eye surgery.
At the first station, we were each given our own pig-eye-in-a-cup to work on, and had the opportunity to remove the epithelium, simulating how we’d prepare it for laser eye surgery. It was at this station that I saw a bag of real eyeballs for the first time in my life. Most people might feel a little squeamish about it, but for me, as an eye nerd, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen (besides lasers, of course).
My pig eye in a cup
Tools we used to remove epithelium
Our tools in action under a microscope
As my fellow blogger Fatima has noted, spring quarter is upon us. It’s crazy to think that in two months I’ll be able to call myself a “second year,” and it makes me realize how fast the the school year as flown by. I’m already counting down to summer–our first and only summer off during our time at ICO.
We’re a four weeks in, and at about this time each quarter I find myself getting extremely overwhelmed with the course load. The amount of work we have seems unmanageable until I’ve gotten a few exams under my belt. Fortunately, we now only have two exams per week instead of three, as in the previous two quarters. Still, I already feel exhausted and ready for the next break (despite the fact that our last break ended only a month ago). Unsurprisingly, some of my classmates have made fun of me for this.
When you start your undergrad career, you probably hear about the infamous “freshman 15” that may slowly start to creep up on you as the late-night pizza and bottle or five of beer become a multiple-times-a-week thing rather than the occasional indulgence. I admit, to my dismay, that I succumbed to those additional 15 lbs. of disgusting, unsolicited fat. After I lost all of it and then some following graduation, I promised myself that upon starting at ICO, I would never again fall victim to such unwanted poundage.
However, when the weeks begin to fill with 26 hours worth of class, two-to-three 8 a.m. exams and not nearly enough sleep, so begin those terrible habits you’d just gotten in check: those late Jimmy John’s orders, infinite calorie-laden coffee drinks and cookie binges that you justify with, “Hey, I deserve it… I have an exam tomorrow!” Right. We’ve all been there.
Two weeks down, nine weeks to go. It’s certainly too early to be counting down spring quarter, the last of my second year. But I can’t help it! Once the quarter is over, my classmates and I will be halfway done with our education at ICO and even closer to reaching our visionary goals. But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about what’s been going on here so far.
When winter quarter ended in mid-February and numerous sighs of relief were expelled at the end of our last final, all you could see was happiness–a weeklong break was upon us! In celebratory fashion, my friends and I toasted cherry pop sugar cookies and grinned from ear to ear. When night came and rest was somewhat caught up on, we headed out to Eataly, Mario Batali’s 63,000-square-foot food emporium. Housing a market with more than 10,000 gourmet items as well as 23 eateries, Eataly opened its doors to much fanfare last December in River North. The venue was buzzing with hoards of customers and the lines were long, but the payoff for all the waiting was worth it–I’m still dreaming about that hot crepe oozing with chocolately goodness from the Nutella bar.
My classmates and I are taking six courses right now: Ocular Pharmacology, Ocular Disease, Physical Optics, Physical Diagnosis, Optometry Seminar and Microbiology. We’re in the third and final quarter of the Pharmacology and Optics sequences. In Pharmacology, we’re now focusing on the drugs we’ll be prescribing to our future patients. Optics course is looking a lot like physics right now.
Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is famously home to the Magnificent Mile, the city’s toniest shopping strip. Go five miles south on Michigan and you’ll find ICO. Something else you’ll find: a plethora of great restaurants. Below, four of my favorite dining experiences on the Windy City’s best-known street.
My highlight of 2014 so far was a trip to Waffles! It’s a delicious retro-style diner just over two miles from campus in the South Loop. From campus, hop on the #4 bus headed north and you shall be there in about five to 10 minutes, closer to five. I ordered the red velvet waffles (served with an unbelievably good whipped cream cheese topping), and my friend had the Mexican chocolate waffles. Unfortunately I didn’t ask my friend for a bite so I can’t tell you how the Mexican chocolate waffles tasted, but it’s worth a trip back for the red velvet waffles alone! When I went on a recent Saturday morning, there was no wait–a nice surprise. And, the service was great.
1. You start collecting everything that has an eye chart or glasses on it
Even before hipsters or the “nerd look” became cool, optometrists have always been on the lookout for glasses everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of us have owned an optometry mug or two at some point. Just how many shirts with glasses on it could I need in my lifetime? I don’t know, but what I DO know is that I will probably spend a good portion of my savings on optometry-related pieces for my wardrobe. I almost bought a bottle of wine with an eye chart on it, and I don’t even drink wine. I have at least four rings with glasses of different styles and colors. My roommate has earrings with an eye chart on them. It’s an addiction, I don’t know how to stop it, but I am secretly quite proud of it.
2. TV isn’t the same anymore
I was watching “House” and noticed that Dr. Foreman was holding an ophthalmoscope funny. Silly Dr. Foreman, his finger should be on the dial so he can focus on the optic nerve! Even while we watch “Friends,” in the episode where Rachel goes to see the eye doctor (Google Rachel at the Eye Doctor for the video), you’ll notice the optometrist uses a slit lamp and pretends it can deliver a puff of air. Things I could overlook as a naive first year can no longer escape me. I noticed I started getting satisfaction from correctly guessing what ailments the characters had. I distinctly remember yelling at the TV, “THIS GUY HAS A TIA!” (transient ischemic attack) right before the doctor diagnosed the same thing. Sure, all my non-optometry school friends have no idea what I just said out loud (a little too loud), but hey, I felt pretty smart. I don’t think I could get much more nerdier than that. I guess that’s one way to apply the knowledge I learned at school.