Published in Non-Clinical

Why All Optometrists Should Know About COVD

This is editorially independent content
9 min read

Whether or not you work in vision development, you should check out the wealth of resources from COVD.

Why All Optometrists Should Know About COVD

What is COVD?

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is a non-profit, international membership association of eyecare professionals, including optometrists, optometry students and vision therapists. COVD's mission is to correct many of the vision problems experienced by infants, children, and adults as well to enhance the vision abilities of the population at large. COVD believes vision can be developed and changed for the better.
Established in 1971, COVD provides board certification for optometrists and vision therapists who are prepared to offer state-of-the-art services in:
  • Behavioral and developmental vision care
  • Vision therapy
  • Visual rehabilitation


  1. Maura Massucci, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  2. Dan Press, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  3. Katie Dugan, O.D.
  4. Nancy Torgerson, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  5. Carl Hillier, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  6. Benjamin Winters, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  7. Len Press, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  8. Jarrod Davies, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  9. Bob Sanet, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  10. Angela Peddle, O.D., F.C.O.V.D
  11. Barry Tannen, O.D., F.C.O.V.D

Why should optometrists join COVD?

It may seem like a lot to add additional memberships on top of all the other expenses that come with being an optometrist, but the benefits are well worth it.
If you have any interest in providing pediatric services, vision therapy, vision rehabilitation for the traumatic brain injury population, or sports vision therapy, I highly recommend looking into becoming an associate COVD member. As a recent new grad (SUNY 2013), I felt a strong backing by all of the doctors that I had met along the way that continued to encourage and help me open my practice. Without their support, I am not sure if my practice would be nearly as successful as it is.
To ensure the cost is not prohibitive for new grads, COVD's membership fees are graduated based on years practicing.

Graduated membership based on years in practice:

  • 1 year: Set at only $40.00!
  • 2 years: $106.25
  • 3 years: $212.50
  • 4 years: $318.75
  • 5+ years/Associate & Fellow: $425.00
  • Discounted rates for full time faculty ($179) & military ($156)
The fee for COVD membership is WELL worth the price of admission. If you have any questions, reach out to a COVD Mentor to get their take on the community and all of the opportunities being part of COVD has afforded them.

Gain referrals through "Locate A Doctor"

As soon as you become an associate, you become part of the “Locate A Doctor” function on the site. This function looks up doctors based on zip code and can be manipulated in terms of radius. It is a useful referral tool because any optometrist, pediatrician, occupational therapist, or parent can access it on the homepage of the COVD website.
You can also use your new graduate knowledge and skills to bring vision therapy to an existing practice. This can be a way to set yourself apart from other graduates applying to the same job!
Check out this article on how to create a VT business plan to bring to a prospective employer.

Access COVD vision therapy resources

If you visit the COVD website, even as a non-member, you have access to to a tremendous amount of practice management and practice building enormous amount of educational tools, symptoms surveys, and other resources—white papers, research summaries, and their Mindsight blog, all invaluable in helping you build your practice.
When you become a member, the amount of resources increases 10-fold. You’ll have access to the above, plus even more practice building tools like the following guides:
  • How to Start a Vision Therapy Practice
  • Facts Sheets on Vision Therapy
  • Insurance & Vision Therapy
  • Patient Literature
Additionally, there is a job opportunity section that allows you to contact practices that are looking for new doctors to join them.

Fellowship opportunities with COVD

Becoming a fellow of any branch of optometry is showing your colleagues and patients that you are practicing at the highest level of education.
Upon completion of your optometry program, you are eligible to begin the fellowship program with COVD. After enrollment, you have four years to complete the program. There is also an academic fellowship geared toward optometric or visual science educators and researchers. Though becoming a fellow of COVD is no easy feat, it is a rewarding process that sets you apart from the pack.

Follow the link to this video to learn everything you need to know about the path to COVD fellowship.

The COVD meeting is a great opportunity for all optometrists, not just vision therapy doctors

I'm probably biased, but I believe that vision therapy doctors are the best doctors. Every single doctor I come in contact with at the COVD meeting is open to talk, learn, and create something bigger than him or herself. Their energy and excitement towards the profession is infectious! I find that vision therapy doctors have this special combination of that ‘think outside the box’ intelligence, compassion, and a certain approachability about them. These three traits give rise to a unique type of doctor that you don’t come across everyday.

At COVD meetings, learning is at the forefront of the agenda

Although this is the goal of all organized meetings, I find that the COVD meeting takes this to heart. No matter if you are in class, having lunch or just walking through the hallway, you’ll find that vision therapy doctors want to talk about vision therapy all of the time. At every turn, there is an opportunity for learning.

For their 2022 Annual Meeting, taking place April in Columbus, Ohio, COVD will be returning to an in-person format. They are offering courses on topics ranging from music vision to photobiomodulation to nystagmus to medical legal considerations of vision therapy.

My favorite random pearl of wisdom came while I was sitting at dinner with a group of colleagues. This pearl isn’t just about vision therapy, rather about optometry in general. A conversation sprung up about vision therapy in corporate settings and a doctor I had just met looked at me and said:

It’s not about WHERE you practice, but HOW you practice.

Wow. Let that sink in. This is a big statement and is going to stick with me for the rest of my career. It seems like a pretty straightforward thing to say, but I had the one-track mind of “vision therapy must be done in a private practice setting.” In reality, I could be sitting in a hut on the beach doing therapy better than the guy down the road in a fancy office. It’s not about the tools, it is about who is holding them.
This is the powerful thing about these meetings; getting groups of doctors together to discuss the profession and to keep an open mind about how they are practicing.

It isn’t about who knows the most, it’s about being part of the TEAM

As I was sitting in Dr. Arnold Sherman’s lecture about sports vision therapy, I was in complete awe that he was taking criticism with grace over his study on which visual aspects are the best predictors of successful baseball players. He was also open to any and all suggestions on how to improve his study moving forward.
COVD promotes this ‘family’ like mentality that wants everyone to succeed and give the best care they can to their patients. I don’t know if you’d get that in any other area of optometry in such a public forum.
I think the community and open door policy is a big selling point to new doctors that are unsure of what exactly vision therapy entails. VT doctors welcome rookies with open arms and a bucket full of advice. They want to share their knowledge and passion and really want for you to be part of this group.
At the meeting we were able to promote the COVD Mentorship Program. In just a few weeks we should have every state represented, which gives our new grads (YOU!) a great opportunity to connect with doctors within your state. If you want to learn more about vision therapy or you just want to learn how to make the proper referrals, the mentorship program is a great way to start.

COVD is committed to the future

One of the most awesome parts of COVD meetings is the different doctors who come to speak—for instance, 2015's premier speaker was an ophthalmologist, Dr. Jonathon Holmes. Dr. Holmes is part of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) that is performing a study on the effectiveness of binocular treatment of amblyopia (ATS 18). Along with details of the study and the involvement of binocular vision training with a subset of the group, Dr. Holmes called for a joint effort between optometry and ophthalmology. How amazing is that?
I think that for COVD to welcome an ophthalmologist (you know, those guys that “just want to do surgery”) to the meeting is an obvious attestation to their commitment to moving the profession forward. It will be great to see the impact this study has and how our relationship with ophthalmology will continue to grow!

Check out these COVD Resources:

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD
About Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, O.D. graduated with honors from the SUNY College of Optometry in New York, receiving the VSP Excellence in Primary Care and Excellence in Vision Therapy awards. She then continued her education by completing a residency in vision therapy and rehabilitation with Dr. Barry Tannen, OD.

She has extensive experience in family eye care with a specialty and passion for pediatrics, vision training, and neuro-rehabilitation with traumatic brain injury patients. With her partner, she owns Twin Forks Optometry, a specialty care private practice with a focus on vision therapy, rehabilitation, pediatrics, and low vision on the Eastern End of Long Island. In her spare time, she loves cooking and working on the farm with her fiancé.

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD
Eyes On Eyecare Site Sponsors
Astellas LogoOptilight by Lumenis Logo