• 1866

    Cornelius R. Agnew, MD, establishes an ophthalmology clinic at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

  • 1867

    Dr. Agnew is appointed the first professor of ophthalmology at P&S, marking the official beginning of the program.

  • 1869

    Herman J. Knapp, MD, establishes the New York Ophthalmic and Aural Institute, which later becomes the Herman Knapp Memorial Hospital.

  • 1888

    Dr. Herman Knapp is appointed Professor of Ophthalmology at P&S and becomes the second clinic director.

  • 1903

    Arnold H. Knapp, MD, son of Herman, appointed Professor of Ophthalmology at P&S and becomes the third clinic director.

  • 1911

    Edmund B. Wilson, PhD, maps color blindness onto the X chromosome.

  • 1921

    Department of Ophthalmology Established.

  • 1928

    Presbyterian Hospital moves to 168th Street, and the Vanderbilt Clinic—the clinical care unit of P&S, with its Ophthalmology service— moves uptown with it. John M. Wheeler, MD, DSc, becomes the first chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.

  • 1931

    Edward S. Harkness pledges money to build a separate Eye Institute at the new medical center.

  • 1933

    First corneal transplant, Dr. Ramon Castroviejo.

  • 1935

    Discovery of Hyaluronic acid and its molecular structure, Dr. Karl Meyer.

  • 1936

    Microbiologic transmission of trachoma established, Dr. Philips Thygeson.

  • 1938

    Dr. Castroviejo urges people to will their eyes to science, leading to the development of today’s eye banks.

  • 1940

    New methods developed for the quantitative analysis of DNA sugars, Dr. Zacharias Dische.

  • 1943

    Raymond L. Pfeiffer, MD, is the first to delineate the landmarks of the ocular orbit on plain x-rays.

  • 1947

    First retinoblastoma, pediatric, and adult ocular tumor clinics, Dr. Algernon B. Reese.

  • 1948

    The pupillography laboratory is established by Otto Lowenstein, MD, PhD, a pioneer in the quantitative measurement of pupil function. Willis Knighton, MD, establishes a Glaucoma Clinic on the newly remodeled fifth floor of the Eye Institute.

  • 1955

    American Optical releases the AO HRR color vision test, developed by LeGrand Hardy, MD, director of the Knapp Memorial Physiological Optics Laboratories, and M. Catherine Rittler, working with Gertrude Rand, PhD, of Johns Hopkins.

  • 1956

    George Merriam Jr., MD, with Elizabeth Focht, MD, of NYU, establishes a relationship between cataract formation and radiation. This leads to the development of standards of ocular radiation safety still in use today.

  • 1957

    Irene Loewenfeld, PhD, and Dr. Lowenstein build an” electronic pupillograph” that incorporates infrared technology. It is the first device to accurately measure and analyze the diameter of the pupils.

  • 1958

    Retina clinic established, Dr. Charles Campbell.

  • 1961

    First medical use of the ruby laser, Dr. Charles Campbell. First basic and clinical corneal research center established, Dr. A. Gerard DeVoe and Dr. Anthony Donn.

  • 1965

    Keratoprosthesis developed, Dr. Hernando Cardona.

  • 1966

    Development of System for preserving corneas until transplant, Dr. Saiichi Mishima. Max Forbes, MD, describes indentation gonioscopy in closed-angle glaucoma.

  • 1968

    First argon laser developed, Dr. Francis L'Esperance, Jr. Confocal microscopy first used to detect new structural features of the eye, Dr. David Maurice

  • 1972

    Became accredited. Abraham Spector, PhD, publishes research on protein aggregation and cataract formation. His laboratory will become one of the world’s leading cataract research laboratories.

  • 1973

    Using the ultrasound he developed, Dr. Coleman demonstrates that operating at an earlier stage in ocular trauma can vastly improve the patient’s prognosis for recovery.

  • 1980

    First wide field specular microscope developed, Dr. Charles Koester.

  • 1983

    Development of Healon, a hyaluronic acid polymer that transformed cataract and corneal surgery, Dr. Endre Balazs and Pioneering excimer laser surgery, Dr. Stephen Trokel and Dr. Francis A. L'Esperance, Jr.

  • 1987

    Stephen Trokel performs the first human excimer laser surgery for vision correction.

  • 1994

    First human retinal cell transplants, Dr. Peter Gouras.

  • 1996

    Development of latanoprost (Xalatan™) for the treatment of glaucoma, Dr. Laszlo Bito. FDA approval of Perfluorocarbons for retinal surgery, Dr. Stanley Chang.

  • 1997

    Latanoprost (XalatanTM) for the treatment of glaucoma, developed by Dr. Laszlo Bito, is marketed worldwide.

  • 1998

    Konstantin Petrukhin, PhD, discovers the gene responsible for Best’s macular dystrophy.

  • 2000

    John Flynn, MD, joins the Department as the first Anne S. Cohen Professor of Pediatric.

  • 2005

    The Bernard and Shirlee Brown Glaucoma Research Lab opens.

  • 2006

    Discovery of Factors H & B, significant genes contributing to age-related macular degeneration. Rando Allikmets, Ph.D. and AMD Study Group.

  • 2009

    Janet Sparrow, PhD, discovered and structurally characterized vitamin A aldehyde-adducts responsible for some forms of retinal degeneration.

  • 2010

    The Columbia Laser Vision Correction Center and the Gloria and Louis Flanzer Vision Care Center open.

  • 2011

    Neuroscientist Carol Mason, PhD, is elected to the Institute of Medicine.

  • 2011

    Donald Hood, PhD, elucidates structure- function relationship of glaucomatous damage to the macula.

  • 2015

    Jeffrey Liebmann, MD joins the Department as Vice- Chair, bringing with him several NIH-sponsored clinical trials.

  • 2017

    Irene Maumenee, MD, joins the department and receives the Laureate award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for her lifelong contribution in ophthalmic genetics. Jonas Children’s Vision Care program opens to provide advanced care to children.

  • 2019

    Simon John, PhD, is appointed Robert L. Burch III Professor of Ophthalmic Science. Applied Genetics at Columbia Ophthalmology is launched. Konstantin Petrukhin, PhD, develops tinlarebant, a new drug for Stargardt disease and dry AMD.