Pennsylvania College of Optometry

History of PCO

The history of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry is the history of modern optometry and includes the following milestones:

Early science lab at Pennsylvania College of Optometry
  • 1919: First non-profit, independent college of optometry.
  • 1923: First to confer Doctor of Optometry degree.
  • 1935: First to require four-year optometric educational program.
  • 1948: First contact lens course for practitioners.
  • 1954: First independent health profession institution to receive regional accreditation.
  • 1975: First school or college of optometry to develop a comprehensive, off-campus Externship Program.
  • 1978: First to develop a comprehensive inter-disciplinary clinical facility, The Eye Institute, for education and patient care.
  • 1988: First independent college of optometry to affiliate with a medical school, Hahnemann University.
  • 1990: First school or college of optometry to conduct research and training using an excimer laser.
  • 1994: International optometric programs are established at the Center for International Studies (now known as the Office of Professional Studies and International programs). PCO becomes the first - and remains the only - optometric institution to award a Master of Science in Clinical Optometry to international practitioners who have completed a formal optometric education and are licensed to practice optometry in their home country.
  • 2001: New four year optometry curriculum launched, which has become a model for other schools and colleges of optometry, offers a completely redesigned optometric curriculum with interdisciplinary integration of basic and clinical courses using a module approach leading to the immediate introduction of clinical concepts and skills.
  • 2008: First school or college of optometry to establish a university.
  • 2009: Advanced Studies programs launched. These programs were designed specifically to provide graduates with knowledge and skills in specialty areas (retina, anterior segment, pediatrics, etc.) that surpass entry level skills.
  • 2010: Master of Public Health degree and certificate programs begin. The Salus MPH degree program is designed to bridge the gap in public health training in the areas of optometry, audiology, blindness and visual impairment and physician assistant studies – all underrepresented professions in the area of public health.