In the early 1900s, a number of leaders in American ophthalmology raised the question of the importance of adequate training and testing of the qualifications of specialists in ophthalmology. Discussions stemming from this concern culminated in 1914 with the formation of a joint committee among the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the American Ophthalmological Society, and the Section on Ophthalmology of the American Medical Association to consider ophthalmic education.
The report of this committee in 1915, led to the establishment of the American Board for Ophthalmic Examinations on May 8, 1916. Following the annual Academy meeting in Memphis, the Board examined ten candidates on December 13 and 14, 1916, at the University of Tennessee Medical School.
The Board was incorporated May 3, 1917. The name was changed from the American Board for Ophthalmic Examinations to the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1933. This was the first American Specialty Board to be established, with the American Board of Otolaryngology following in 1924 and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1930. The early history of the American Board of Ophthalmology has been described in History of the American Board of Ophthalmology, 1916-1991 (Shaffer, Robert N., 1991).