by Jonathan Niavis, COVD Student Engagement Coordinator

There are plenty of good reasons to be overwhelmed in your first few months of optometry school, and making sense of all the organizations–and their acronyms– doesn’t help. Remember how long it took you to notice that AOA and AAO are not the same thing? Or to realize that AOSA is the student version of AOA? Yeah, we’ve all been there.

The upside of having all these groups around is that their connections with your school create the best opportunity to get involved. The collaboration made possible by these groups is one of many reasons why our profession is so great!

Here’s one particular acronym that you should be making note of–COVD. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is a non-profit, international membership association of eye care professionals, including optometrists, optometry students, and vision therapists. It provides Board Certification for optometrists and vision therapists who offer behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy (VT), and neuro-optometric rehabilitation. For its student members, it provides resources and opportunities to solidify and further the knowledge you get from school, as well as to become part of the “COVD Family”–this sense of community is what sets COVD apart as something truly special.

Whether your classes have yet to cover COVD’s specialty topics, or you’ve already made up your mind to open a VT practice of your own, your school’s COVD Club is the perfect place to explore and enhance your knowledge in this unique niche of optometric care. Each school’s club will vary in terms of activities and events, but here’s a general idea of the activities you’re invited to enjoy!

1. See what it’s all about at the Tour de Optometry!


Also known as “The Tour,” this event is an annual tradition. With the goal of “Opening eyes to vision therapy,” a member of the COVD Board of Directors visits each of the 25 North American optometry schools. They share a presentation that introduces the world of vision therapy, what it can do for your practice, and how it can affect the lives of your patients.  Even if you’ve never thought about practicing vision therapy, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to witness research updates, expert advice, and inspiring success stories. There’s a brand-new presentation this year, so even if you’ve attended the Tour before, it’s the perfect time to take another look (and maybe get free food!)

2. Expand your skill set with guests and speakers

IAUPR kaplan 15-16 (2)

Hungry for more knowledge after enjoying the Tour de Optometry? Your school has the opportunity to host a second speaker, courtesy of COVD and made possible by a generous donation in memory of Dr. Walter Kaplan, FCOVD!  Your club can invite the local COVD member of their choosing–talk to your Local Student Liaison for details! Don’t know who your Liaison is? Ask your National Student Liaison, Jessica Ruxton!

Though the number of lectures will vary from school to school, you can likely expect that there will be additional visits to your club meetings by local members of the VT community. Broaden your horizons by hearing about their experiences, practice style, and even to teach you a new thing or two! Find out when your next lecture is coming around to add something new to your post-graduation toolbox.

3. Get a real-life perspective when you visit a local VT office

practice visit

If you’re wondering what a typical VT office looks like, and what kind of equipment is needed, nothing is better than seeing the real thing out in a private practice. Still on the fence about including VT in your practice, or curious whether it could work as a part-time aspect of a primary care environment? Seeing real practices in-person can give you an idea of the huge flexibility in practices and equipment–a VT office can be as technologically advanced or as economical as you want it to be. Asking a practicing optometrist what their day-to-day is like, or how they got started in the field, is a great way to start visualizing your future in VT!

4. Raise some cash with a Peds Kit fundraiser


A great opportunity for you and your school’s COVD Club! COVD has worked with Good-Lite to develop this handy kit full of equipment that’s useful when working with our younger patients. Not only do you get these essentials at a great discount, but group orders from school clubs earn $6 back per kit! This will help your club to continue to organize events with all the added bonuses, whether it be food, or prizes! (Looking for more fundraising ideas? Check these out!)

5. Take advantage of your FREE student membership in COVD!


Even if your schedule’s too packed to make it to your COVD Club’s meetings and events, you can still join COVD for FREE as a student (or resident)! See all the benefits of membership on our website, but the most important ones for students are:

  • Travel Grant eligibility
    – let COVD help fund your travel to the Annual Meeting (COVD 2019 application period is November 1-30!)
  • Discounts
    on Annual Meeting registration and other CE events
  • Reminder emails
    for important dates & deadlines
  • JOBS!
    Get access to our Practice Opportunities page!

Join now!

Every school’s COVD Club might be different, but we’re all part of the COVD Family and we can’t wait for you to be, too. Track down your Local Student Liaison (ask Jessica Ruxton, National Student Liaison, if  you don’t know who that is!) and find out what else your school’s COVD Club has in store for this year!