School in Focus: State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry

This article is part of our School in Focus series, written by Christine Morra (Class of 2016, SUNY AOSA Trustee). Check out more student experiences at SUNY here!


In the heart of Midtown Manhattan, across from Bryant Park and the historic New York Public SUNYPIC1Library, lies a hidden gem that helps New York City residents see the beauty of their city better every day: SUNY Optometry! An 18 floor building encompasses the campus, with 4 specialty clinic floors that make up the University Eye Center, 2 student life centers, 2 fully equipped optometric labs, the largest vision science library in the nation, and so much more.


The tight-knit community that SUNY Optometry offers is a large draw for students, especially in a big city that is easy to get lost in. There are over 25 organizations and clubs on campus, with something for everybody to get involved in. There is always something going on, from bake sales to guest speakers and lunch meetings to organized happy hours. In addition, there are annual events such as a battle of the classes softball game in Central Park, NYC Vision Walk, IMG_3260SUNY-O Talent Show, AOSA VisionShow, Third Year Auction, Eye Ball, and our Halloween and holiday parties. Programs like Dining with Doctors allow students to get to know faculty on a more personal level, while organizations like SVOSH and Fellowship of Christian Optometrists give students the opportunity to go on optometric mission trips worldwide.

SUNY Optometry isn’t all fun and games though, with a rigorous course load and high expectations, students must devote a lot of time to studying for classes and practicing optometric skill sets for clinical assessments. Although it can be tough at times, students walk away forming friendships with classmates that will last a lifetime, and relationships with faculty that will help guide their future practice modalities.


SUNY Optometry students are fortunate enough to see a diverse group of patients every day. Patients come from all 5 boroughs and the surrounding tristate area, which is one of the biggest reasons why students come out of school with confidence and plenty of experience under their belts. Our specialty clinics include low vision, head trauma, vision SUNYPIC2therapy, neuro-optometry, group practice, specialty contact lens, pediatrics and ocular disease including retina, glaucoma, and oculoplastics. With a small student to faculty ratio ranging from three to five students to one attending doctor, students are able to interact easily with supervisors and take away important clinical pearls from every single patient.

What is unique about SUNY is that students are rotating through the clinics from day 1, observing third and fourth year students every week in first year and scribing in second year. Integrative Seminar is a course that allows first and second year students to present the cases they saw each week in clinic and participate in active small group discussions with their classmates and faculty doctors, helping them to learn through experience early on in their career. The summer transition from second year to third year is when students are fully immersed in the clinics, with a full day of group practice clinic each week and rotations through multiple specialty rotations throughout third year. By fourth year, students have four three-month externships, with one mandatory SUNY in-house rotation and plenty of externships offered across the country and internationally.


Class sizes have been expanding at SUNY, with the newest class bringing in 98 new first year students this past fall. Because of this, there has been a lot of positive change taking place in the SUNYbuilding the past few years. Changes to accommodate the growing size of the school include two new lecture halls, a new gym with numerous amenities that allow student access whenever the building is open, a new second floor student lounge in addition to the third floor student center for extra places to study, hang out, and relax with beautiful views of Bryant Park and the Empire State Building. Also, a new, fully equipped optometric lab with state-of-the-art slit lamps and automated phoroptors.

If you’re looking for a great optometric education in an amazing city, SUNY Optometry is the place for you!

How has YOUR experience in optometry school been? Want to share what your school is all about? Submit an article for our School in Focus series! Contact us at for more info.


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