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Wills Eye Institute

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Wills Eye Institute

Wills Eye Hospital
File:Wills Eye Institute logo.jpg
Location 840 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Care system
Hospital type Specialist
Affiliated university Thomas Jefferson University
Speciality Ophthalmology
Founded 1832
Optometry portal

Wills Eye Hospital is a non-profit eye clinic and hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1832 and is the oldest continually operating eye-care facility in the United States. It is affiliated with the medical school of Thomas Jefferson University.

Since 1990, Wills Eye Hospital has consistently been ranked one of the best ophthalmology hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.[1]


James Wills, Jr., a Quaker merchant, was instrumental in the founding of Wills Eye through his bequest of $116,000 in 1832 to the City of Philadelphia. Wills stipulated that the funds were to be used specifically for the indigent, blind, and lame. Over the years it evolved into solely an eye hospital. The first Wills Eye Hospital opened in 1834 near Logan Circle at 18th & Race Streets.

Early surgeons at Wills Eye included Isaac Parrish, M.D. and Isaac Hays, MD,[2] George Fox, M.D., and Squier Littell, M.D., who in 1837 wrote "A Manual of Diseases of the Eye." [3] In 1854, Littell also co-edited "A Treatise on Operative Ophthalmic Surgery" with Henry Haynes Walton.[4]

Historic building

Wills Hospital
Wills Hospital, September 2007
Wills Eye Institute
Location 1601 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

39°57′48″N 75°9′56″W / 39.96333°N 75.16556°W / 39.96333; -75.16556Coordinates: 39°57′48″N 75°9′56″W / 39.96333°N 75.16556°W / 39.96333; -75.16556

Area 0.8 acres (0.32 ha)
Built 1931-1932
Architect John T. Windrim
Architectural style Other, Federal Tuscan
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 84003582[5]
Added to NRHP July 12, 1984

The Centennial Building of Wills Eye Hospital was designed by noted architect John T. Windrim and built in 1931-1932. It is a six-story, brick building measuring 154 feet by 157 feet. The front facade features a portico with eight Tuscan order columns.[6]

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.[5]

Medical achievements

Wills Eye has pioneered many techniques in the field of ophthalmology, including:

  • Artificial intraocular lens implant (1952), Warren Reese, MD and Turgut Hamdi, MD
  • Invention of a vitrectomy machine (1972), Jay Federman, MD
  • Artificial retinal implant (2009), Julia Haller, MD, Allen Ho, MD and Carl Regillo, MD [7][8]


The Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson was established in June 2011 in order to forge a collaboration between clinicians and researchers in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of eye disease. More than 15 scientific disciplines participate, including ophthalmology, oncology, pathology, neurology and endocrinology. The primary focus is on translational research and studies that will have a major impact on improving vision health.

Notable people

Senior officials

  • Joseph Bilson, Executive Director, Wills Eye (2007–present)
  • Julia A. Haller, MD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Wills Eye (2007–present)

Accreditation and approvals

  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
  • Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education of the American Medical Association
  • College of American Pathologists


  • American Association of Eye and Ear Hospitals
  • Council of Specialty Surgical Facilities and Institutes



External links

  • Twitter
  • Wills Eye Knowledge Portal
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