From the archives: Vision for the future

by Maija Anderson, OHSU Hstorical Collections & Archives 

May 27, 2015

OphthalmologyIn this mid-20th century photograph, a University of Oregon Medical School (the precursor to today's OHSU School of Medicine) ophthalmologist examines a young patient. Were it not for a collaboration between Oregon's leading ophthalmologist and a generous private organization, the exam might never have taken place: The scene is the result of an enduring philanthropic effort to ensure that eye care is a regular part of pediatric health in Oregon.

In 1949, Casey Eye Institute founder Kenneth Swan, M.D. needed an oximeter for his clinic. As chair of the UOMS Department of Ophthalmology, Swan had made enormous strides in raising the profile of eye care and research in Oregon. However, the facilities available to him were still minimal and resources were scant. The patient in need was a baby whose father happened to be a member of the Oregon State Elks Association. Swan and the father went to the Elks with an appeal. Not only did the charitable organization quickly raise the required funds, they worked with Swan to found the Elks Children's Eye Clinic, the first academic pediatric eye clinic. Today, the clinic is still the Oregon Elks' flagship philanthropic  program. The clinic offers a variety of evaluation, diagnostic and treatment services to babies and children in Portland and throughout Oregon.

Want to see more great finds from the history of ophthalmology? This summer, OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is holding an exhibit of 18th-19th century rare books and instruments, highlighting defining achievements in ophthalmology. Celebrating a major donation of rare books on ophthalmology from Mrs. Jacqueline Donin, the exhibit will run from June-August in the Main Library, BICC building.

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