The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education notified the university of the approval. ACOE will review the school annually during its first three academic years, and a request for
full accreditation will be made by the university not less than
12 months prior to graduation of the program’s first class, the university said in a news release.
“We are the first school to receive such recognition under the new, more stringent accreditation standards, and in a record time of one year and three months from the time we initiated our self-study,” Founding Dean Andrew Buzzelli said in the release.
A recent state law allowing optometrists to perform selective laser and peri-ocular
surgical procedures will allow the college to bring
such treatments to medically under-served areas, the release said. “The approach to clinical care will also
be unique,” it said. “The college of optometry is partnering with local federally
qualified health care centers and hospitals to create a new
patient-centered model for the education of eye care providers and
creating access to vision care for the citizens of Appalachia.”
The college will be the 22nd in the nation and will admit 60 students per class, for a four-year total of 240. “With no
other colleges of optometry in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia, KYCO will be the most accessible
college of optometry in the Southeastern portion of the country,” the release said.
It noted that Central Appalachia “has the highest incidences of severe
vision loss from other factors such as diabetes and hypertension,” the release said, noting that Owsley County leads the nation with more than 18 percent.
UPike, as the university calls itself, also has a college of osteopathic medicine and a school of nursing.