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The Casey Eye Institute, opened in 1991, brings together ophthalmic education, research and treatment into one center. With roots stretching back to 1945, when Dr. Kenneth Swan founded the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU), Casey Eye Institute’s facilities now anchor the Terwilliger Road entrance to the OHSU Marquam Hill campus.

Exterior view of Casey Eye Institute, circa 1990s.

Color photograph of the exterior of the Casey Eye Institute, a white, modernist building situated in a canyon among other buildings.

Oregon State Elks President Don Jensen presents a check to Peter Kohler and Senator Mark O. Hatfield for the Casey Eye Institute, 1990.

Black and white photograph of OHSU President Peter Kohler and Senator Mark O. Hatfield receiving a one million dollar check from the Oregon State Elks Association president Don Jensen for the Elks Childrens Eye Clinic at the Casey Eye Insitute at OHSU.

Construction of Casey Eye Institute, view of crane, circa 1990.

Black and white photograph of the Casey Eye Institute construction site with crane in foreground, with Portland waterfront visible in background.

Casey Eye Institute preliminary concept painting, circa 1980s-1990s.

Watercolor painting of the preliminary design concept for the Casey Eye Institute depicts a large white modernist building against a park-like background.

Kenneth C. Swan, M.D., circa 1960s.

Black and white portrait of Kenneth Swan wearing glasses, a striped blazer, and a bowtie.

Kenneth Swan, M.D., founded the Department of Ophthalmology at University of Oregon Medical School in 1945, and built the department with a growing number of colleagues over the following decades. Under Swan’s leadership, the department started the first three-year ophthalmology residency program in the Pacific Northwest. The department continually outgrew its facilities, from temporary rooms in Mackenzie Hall, to an expansion into the Outpatient Clinic (now Sam Jackson Hall) with an eye clinic sponsored by the Oregon State Elks, into the Laboratory and Administration Building (now Baird Hall) and into the tenth floor of the OHSU Hospital.

During the 1980s, Dr. Swan partnered with his successor as Chair of Ophthalmology, Dr. Fredrick Fraunfelder, to raise OHSU's first significant capital campaign, a $31 million effort to construct the Casey Eye Institute. The institute opened on July 16, 1991, and was named for James and George Casey, founders of United Parcel Service. An early design created by world-renowned architect Richard Meier was not able to be completed within the available budget and the project instead was completed by Portland’s GBD Architects.

With six operating rooms, four minor surgery rooms, nine lasers and over fifty individually designed exam rooms, the institute offered a marked upgrade in clinical ophthalmology facilities. Before Casey Eye Institute opened, sixty percent of OHSU's eye surgeries required a stay in the hospital, but in the innovative new facility, ninety percent were completed with just a visit.

The Oregon State Elks have long partnered with Casey Eye Institute and its predecessors to improve ophthalmic care in the state, particularly for children. The Elks have contributed millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer work hours to the institute. In 1949, significant contributions from the Oregon State Elks enabled the establishment of the first children's eye clinic in an academic setting in the United States. In 2020, The Elks Children’s Eye Clinic moved into a state-of-the-art facility adjacent to Casey Eye Institute.

“About Casey Eye Institute” OHSU Casey Eye Institute.

Bringing the Future into Sight. Oregon Health Sciences University: Dept. of Ophthalmology at the Casey Eye Institute. 1991.

Casey Eye Institute. Update. Winter 1992-1993. Kenneth C. Swan papers, Historical Collections & Archives, OHSU Library.

Gragg, Randy. “Casey Eye Institute: Meier, Money & Myopia.” The Oregonian (Portland, OR), October 6, 1991: D01. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

OHSU Digital Collections,

OHSU Digital Collections,

OHSU Digital Collections,

OHSU Digital Collections,

OHSU Digital Collections,