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 would come together under one roof 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. This 60,000-square-foot facility officially opened in 2005 and is dedicated to its threefold mission: to provide the most advanced treatments for patient care, to foster an interplay of ideas among a community of scholars creating a fertile environment for discovery, and to transfer skills and knowledge to the next generation of physicians and researchers through a world-class ophthalmic medical education program. Steadfast dedication to that mission has made the Hamilton Eye Institute one of the finest eye institutes in the world. The UT Hamilton Eye Institute has become a leader in vision care, research and medical education.

A native Memphian, Dr. Fleming has been a full-time physician with the Department of Ophthalmology since 1997, when he was recruited by Dr. Haik to head the Oculoplastic Service. In 2003, he was promoted to professor and appointed vice-chair of clinical affairs. Four years later, he successfully unified a consortium of the Baptist and Methodist health care systems - competitors that almost never work together - and established the HEI ambulatory surgery center. He was named the Philip M. Lewis Professor of Ophthalmology in 2008. From 2012-2016, Dr. Fleming was the sixth chair in the department’s 101-year history. Now as Director, Philip M. Lewis Professor of Ophthalmology James C. Fleming, MD, FACS, HEI continues to attract patients from throughout the region and world, providing the highest level of eye care within a 150-mile radius. HEI is nationally renowned among the top 10 ophthalmology institutes in the country for its expertise in treating complex eye conditions. For more than a decade, our faculty has consistently been listed among the Best Doctors in America®. More than 20 UT ophthalmologists, many of whom are considered leaders in their fields, provide quality care to patients. Our state-of-the-art facilities provide everything from yearly eye exams to advanced treatment of eye disease and trauma, with skilled personnel providing the most thorough care possible.

With many of the most advanced surgical training technologies available, the Hamilton Eye Institute's educational facilities are nothing short of revolutionary. Our Skills Transfer Center is equipped with virtual reality ophthalmic training simulators for ophthalmic surgery and indirect ophthalmoscopy, while our Surgery Center and Freeman Auditorium provide one of the nation's most sophisticated, high-definition 3-D surgical video systems.

As one of the Mid-South's premier vision research facilities, the Hamilton Eye Institute's Center for Vision Research provides research administrative offices, laboratories, and core facilities for imaging and molecular biology. HEI is well on its way to becoming one of the primary vision research centers for the nation.



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