Board History


In the early 1900s, a number of leaders in American ophthalmology were concerned about the adequacy of training and the testing of the qualifications of specialists in ophthalmology. These discussions culminated with the formation in 1914 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 led to the establishment of the American Board for Ophthalmic Examinations on May 8, 1916. On December 13 and 14, 1916, the Board conducted its first examination at the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis. Ten candidates were examined and seven were successful.

The Board was incorporated on May 3, 1917, establishing itself as the first American medical specialty board. For further information about the history of the American Board of Ophthalmology, please see the following sources.

  • Cordes FC, Rucker CW. History of the American Board of Ophthalmology. Am J Ophthalmol 1962;53:243-264.
  • The History of the American Board of Ophthalmology, 1916-1991. Shaffer RN. Johnson Printing Company. Rochester, Minnesota. 1991.
  • The Past, Present, and Future of Board Certification in Ophthalmology. Supplement to Ophthalmology, September 2016. Clarkson JG, Kline LB (eds.).