Impact & Service

Optometrists literally change the way people see the world. But, at NECO, you’ll start to make a positive impact on lives long before you graduate.

Since its founding, community service has been at the core of New England College of Optometry’s approach to education. Today, through our clinical services, outreach programs, and advocacy efforts, NECO students, faculty, and partners impact lives around the globe.

Meaningful learning opportunities

Service is woven into the curriculum at NECO. You’ll provide vision screenings to underserved and at-risk populations and complete clinical rotations in diverse community health settings. As part of a class project or activity, you might even help industry partners develop and test emerging technology that will improve quality and access to care.

Amplifying our impact

With alumni in all 50 states and around the world, NECO’s innovative, patient-centered approach to eye care reaches far and wide. This is especially true for our international students who often aim to change the scope of practice in their home countries.

During your time at NECO, you will undoubtedly change lives. After graduation, you can continue to make an impact, wherever your career leads you.

Impact Through Service

  • 180,000

    Lives Impacted

    Over the course of four years, a single class of NECO students can impact tens of thousands of lives.

  • 1,000

    Patients Seen on VOSH Trips

    On a typical five-day medical mission, NECO student-volunteers provide care to hundreds of patients.

  • 1st-4th

    Years You'll Make an Impact

    From the first months through graduation, students work in community health centers, VA centers, and schools to provide needed eye care.

How NECO Makes an Impact

Advocacy & Awareness

From the state capital to Capitol Hill, NECO students and faculty take their advocacy efforts on the road. Using your voice and knowledge, you can make a difference in the lives of millions by advocating for optometry and better care for patients.

  • Hill Visits

    Join the AOA’s annual Congressional Conference in Washington, DC, where you can meet with lawmakers and lobby for bills and policies.

  • State Support

    Provide guidance to senators and representatives from all 50 states on topics such as access to care, student loan forgiveness, and Medicaid policies. Here in Massachusetts, you can participate in events like “I Care for Eye Care” Day at the State House.

A group of students and optometrists and the AOA work on advocacy together.
NECO students and members of the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists at AOA’s 2019 Capitol Hill event.

Outreach & Public Health

Improve access to care. Preserve vision. Enhance quality of life. These goals are a driving force behind our outreach and education services.

Reducing Disparities in Health & Vision. NECO Center for Eye Care, along with its affiliates, provides comprehensive eye exams, prescription services, and screenings to underserved populations:

Homeless service. Quality eye care service for adults and children without permanent housing.

Individual with disabilities service. Treatment and care for patients with visual and/or multiple impairments at our low vision clinic and on site at special needs-based schools.

Many others are served through NECO’s partnership with dozens of community health centers, public schools, and youth programs.

Pioneers in Community Health. Boston is home to one of the nation’s first government-funded community health centers. It’s only fitting that NECO has been an early and strong supporter of the community health movement since they were established in 1965. Today, 75% of Boston-area community health centers offer eye care services, and NECO students have a presence in many of them.

Serving Those Who Served. Veteran Affairs hospitals and medical centers offer another avenue for public health outreach. At VA medical centers, students treat patients with multiple complex ocular and systemic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and neurological or cardiac disease.

  • Guaranteed Community Health Experience

    Since the 1970s, NECO has ensured that all students gain clinical experience at community health centers and VA facilities.

  • School-based Screenings and Care

    NECO has established or partnered with clinics at Perkins School for the Blind, Cotting School, The Carroll Center for the Blind, Boston Public Schools, and others.

Student giving vision screening to young student in Boston schools
A first-year OD student provides a vision screening at Boston Renaissance Charter Public School.


Bringing eye care to those in need is part of our DNA. In addition to formal clinical experience in community settings, NECO students serve the greater Boston region (and beyond) in many ways.

Vision Screenings: Helping Boston See Better. We provide much-needed vision screenings throughout the Boston area at public schools, Head Start programs, community groups, and other service organizations.

Volunteering: Serving Locally & Globally.  Outside of class and clinics, students devote their own time to providing eye care to those in need. Many of these opportunities are organized or sponsored by student organizations.

Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) is the largest student group on campus. The NECO chapter of VOSH International offers eye care services locally and abroad through annual medical missions. Recent international destinations include Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Lions Club. A branch of the larger Lions organization, this club offers unique volunteer opportunities such as providing book-binding services for the National Braille Press and leading eyewear donation drives for VOSH or local shelters.

  • Practical, Purposeful Learning

    Since 1988, all first-year NECO students have participated in vision screenings in a variety of settings.

Two students and two children meet during a VOSH trip to the DR.
As part of a recent VOSH International mission trip, 22 NECO students traveled to the Dominican Republic.
Head and shoulders photo of Hassam
Voices of NECO

A Career with Purpose


For me, being an optometrist is highly linked to giving back to the community and allowing people to experience life without having to deal with poor vision. At NECO, we’re given the opportunity to be a part of the community and help those in need.

  • Class Year 2025
  • Hometown Delmar, NY