With its beginning as a subspecialty within Indiana University School of Medicine and its initial goal of didactic training in eye anatomy and physiology providing basic training in ophthalmology to the general practitioners, the department carved its niche with more than 80 full-time, adjunct, affiliated and emeritus faculties with a wide-range of expertise clinics and research.
Frank A. Morrison, MD, served as the first chairman of the department. A graduate of Indiana Medical School, Morrison engaged in the private practice of general medicine and then, after a few years, went to New York and Philadelphia to study surgery of the eye, ear, nose and throat (EENT).
Upon returning to Indiana, Morrison was a member of the staff of St. Vincent and Robert Long hospitals and was the first director of the eye clinic at Riley Hospital for Children. He assumed the position of chair for the department in 1908 and held it until his death in 1928. Morrison bequeathed his medical library and instruments to the Department of Ophthalmology—a small nucleus of the Frank A. Morrison Ophthalmological Library today.
After Morrison’s death, William F. Hughes, MD, assumed the chair’s position on a part-time basis. He was succeeded by Robert J. Masters, MD, in 1943 who also held the position on a part-time basis. Between the years of 1943 and 1954, the department trained 22 residents.
In 1954, Fred M. Wilson Sr., MD, took the helm as the first full-time chair for the department and remained in position until 1979. Under his leadership, the department saw tremendous growth and change within its curriculum.
Wilson managed to expand the physical facilities and introduced the compartmentalization of the department into the ophthalmic subspecialties and appointed to these areas ambitious, well-trained, young ophthalmologists.
As their duties and responsibilities began to expand, so did the department’s residency program, becoming a sought-after and nationally known entity. The chiefs of the various subspecialty services, through their diligent work and contributions to the literature, helped the department grow in stature. Several of these individuals still serve as the emeritus faculty today.
Terry Ernest, MD, PhD, was the chairman from 1979 to 1981 followed by the appointment of Eugene M. Helveston, MD for three years.
From there, Merrill Grayson stepped into the department’s top job—the first of several occasions he took on the title.
Grayson originally joined the faculty of IU School of Medicine as assistant professor of ophthalmology in 1957. He served the school of more than 30 years before being honored with the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 2008.
That same year, the endowed Grayson Senior Chair in Ophthalmology was created in his honor to support vision research within the department.
Under the leadership of Robert D. Yee, MD, the Department of Ophthalmology began to further expand its efforts in 1989.
The faculty had an outstanding record in the teaching of medical students and preparing residents in medical ophthalmology and in the most recent surgical techniques. The department expanded physically from a small, two-room clinic to a well-equipped, large clinic in a multi-specialty building to a veteran’s hospital, a children’s hospital and a general city hospital.
Through its research efforts, the department contributed to the restoration of sight and the prevention of blindness in children and adults across the state of Indiana.
Louis B. Cantor, MD, served as department chair from 2009 to 2017, leading the recruitment of several current faculty members.
During Cantor’s years at the helm, the department constructed the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute, thanks to the generosity and philanthropic support of Eugene and Marilyn Glick.
In 2009, the university broke ground on the new institute—an intersection of health care, research and education.
Inside the building on its first floor, a clinic serves patients suffering from vision loss and eye disease, along with a state-of-the-art conference room and optical shop. The three floors above are dedicated to administration, learning and advancing the science to prevent and reverse vision loss.
The department is now under the leadership of David Wallace, MD, MPH, a native Hoosier and IU School of Medicine alumnus.