Early next year, UW will begin construction on the Waterloo Eye Institute (WEI), a state-of-the-art facility that will provide opportunities to increase eye and vision care services, expand capacity to conduct clinical research, and facilitate education by allowing students to work alongside healthcare professionals. To make the building possible, FYIdoctors, the country’s largest eyecare provider, and IRIS The Visual Group, the country’s largest network of eye physicians, have donated a total of $8.5 million dollars to the School of Optometry, with $2.5 million coming from FYIdoctors’ individual optometrists.
The WEI will total 67,000 square feet of new and renovated space dedicated towards creating infrastructure in tele-optometry to increase access to eyecare in underprivileged communities and provide space for researchers to develop new treatments for conditions including glaucoma, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
At a ceremony today, UW president Vivek Goel spoke of the progress the gifts represent in the Seeing Beyond 2020 campaign, a $35 million campaign launched to support the creation of the WEI. Dr. Daryan Angle, vice president of business development at IRIS, was also present.
Dr. Alan Ulsifer, CEO and chair of FYIdoctors’ board of directors, added that “to be able to say that our company had a role in creating something so special for the future of optometry … is really humbling.”