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About - Hamilton Eye Institute

Center for Excellence in Vision Care

Medical discoveries don't just take place in laboratories; they also occur at the bedsides of patients where novel ideas become innovative treatments that provide valuable insight for future breakthroughs. This type of research only thrives in an atmosphere where scientists and physicians can work together as conduits of discovery. Few were as keenly aware of this as Ralph Hamilton, MD, who had a vision for a comprehensive facility where researchers, clinicians, students, nurses, and technicians could come together to study the eye, share knowledge and care for patients.

Dr. Hamilton's vision inspired the generosity of private donors who shared his dream. Through their commitment and the leadership of Hamilton Professor of Ophthalmology and HEI Director Barrett G. Haik, MD, FACS, who chaired the department during the creation of the institute (1995-2012), the Hamilton Eye Institute became a reality. The 60,000-square-foot facility opened in 2005, and current faculty and staff continue the original threefold mission of providing advanced treatments for patient care, fostering an interplay of ideas among a community of scholars in a fertile environment for discovery, and transferring skills and knowledge to the next generation of physicians and researchers through a world-class ophthalmic medical education program.

With many of the most advanced surgical training technologies available, the Hamilton Eye Institute's educational facilities are among the finest available. The Skills Transfer Center is equipped with virtual reality ophthalmic training simulators for ophthalmic surgery and indirect ophthalmoscopy, while the Surgery Center and Freeman Auditorium provide a sophisticated, high-definition 3-D surgical video system for learning.

As one of the Mid-South's premier vision research facilities, the Hamilton Eye Institute's Center for Vision Research provides facilities for research regarding a variety of eye diseases and conditions, including glaucoma, dry eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, eye-related traumas, and Keratoconus among others. Prime laboratory facilities with adjacent administrative offices enables faculty and staff to efficiently conduct research within a collaborative environment.

HEI Founder

Barrett George Haik, MD, FACS
Hamilton Professor of Ophthalmology
Founder & Director of the Hamilton Eye Institute

The Hamilton Eye Institute was founded by Barrett George Haik, MD, FACS, former Hamilton Professor of Ophthalmology. Dr. Haik was born into a family of ophthalmologists, and excelled in both his medical education and his appointments before being recruited in 1995 to serve as Chair of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Ophthalmology, where he transformed a small office into the world-class Hamilton Eye Institute. After 17 years as Chairman, Dr. Haik took on the role of director of the Hamilton Eye Institute. Dr. Haik specialized in ocular oncology, oculoplastics, and orbital disease, and was internationally renowned as an expert in the diagnosis and management of ophthalmic tumors. 

He served on the National Advisory Eye Council and the National Eye Institute Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Health. He was past president of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology, the American Eye Study Club, and the American Society of Ophthalmic Ultrasound; a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American College of Surgeons, and the New York Academy of Medicine; and a member of the American Ophthalmological Society. Throughout his career, he received numerous awards, including a Life Achievement Honor Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. 

We continue to honor Dr. Haik’s legacy through service to the patients, by training the next generation of ophthalmologists, through innovative research, and by doing missional work in Memphis and around the world.

Barrett Haik photo

May 26, 2022