Like many students, I worked at an optical for several years before I came to ICO. I was actually working at my father’s practice. I started out doing entrance testing. This included VA’s, stereopsis, color vision screening, etc.- basically, a decent portion of the tests we learned our first year.
After being an exam technician for a couple of years, I moved out to the front desk and worked with insurances, billing, scheduling appointments, etc. During my last year of work, I was an optician. This was my favorite position- so much so, that I decided I would try to find a job as an optician this summer. I was fortunate enough to land a job in the Loop at Eye Appeal Optical, a practice owned by my father’s roommate at ICO (the ICO network really has its benefits!) After working there for a few weeks, I began to notice how much my perception of the field of optometry has changed with just one year of school under my belt.
When I was an performing entrance tests, billing insurances, and selling eyeglasses at my father’s optical, I wasn’t exactly sure why I was doing what I was. It was more of a script that I went through for each patient. As an exam technician, it was something like, “Read the smallest line you can read on that chart.” As a biller, it was, “Click here, select that, click again, and submit.” As an optician, it was, “Help the patient pick out a pair of glasses and give them what they want.”
From our first year lab sessions, I learned WHY we actually do the tests, as opposed to just knowing how to do them. From our CAP sessions, I learned how insurance companies play a major role in the exam and that they can almost dictate how much money doctors make from an exam. From some of the classes we took first year, I learned about the optics of the glasses I was selling. I now understand things like why presbyopes need multifocal lenses, why it is important to fit kids with glasses at a young age if they need it, and why certain visual issues cannot all be resolved with a pair of glasses.
With only one year down and three more to go, I still have a lot to learn… but it is exciting and motivating to see where I was before school, and where I am now.