Ambitious Waterloo Eye Institute receives university approval

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

artist's rendering of Waterloo Eye Institute
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the profession, and the University of Waterloo, the School of Optometry and Vision Science is moving closer breaking ground on the Waterloo Eye Institute (WEI). 

As of April 6, the School has received the University of Waterloo’s approval to move forward on the final design plans for the WEI. This approval is evidence of the university’s commitment to advancing the frontiers of vision science – bringing the best ideas, researchers, educators, and students to deliver world-class optometric education, research, and clinical care.

After much interest in the project, the School elected to work with international architect firm HOK. Using their extensive expertise in designing centres - such as Duke Eye Centre and the University of Missouri - St. Louis, College of Optometry - they are bringing the School's collective vision of the Waterloo Eye Institute to life. The HOK team includes architect Chris Downey, who brings a unique perspective to the design based on his personal experience with acquired blindness. 

Woven throughout the fabric of the project is a desire to provide an exceptional patient care experience. 

With initial architectural drawings now complete, the two-story, 67,000 sq. ft. Waterloo Eye Institute will be a combination of existing and new facilities. As a national resource and leader, the School has a unique responsibility to support the public and advance the profession of optometry across the country. As Canada’s foremost centre for eye and vision care, the WEI will rise to this responsibility by:

  • Creating an integrated, modern education and clinical care environment with a dedicated surgical centre;
  • Building two frontier research centres that will harness our strengths in biomedical sciences and ocular imaging;
  • Developing innovation capacity and infrastructure in tele-optometry to increase access to eye and vision care for underserved communities and promote access to specialty care services such as low vision rehabilitation; and
  • Enhancing continuing professional development and distance learning with robust infrastructure including a curated educational case and image library with an evidence-based foundation - gaining the potential to link to every corner of the nation.

As plans finalize, the School anticipates to begin breaking ground in spring 2022.

This ambitious project will be made possible through the School’s $35 million Seeing Beyond 2020 campaign. To date, $14 million has been raised thanks to the support of the profession, industry partners, foundations, friends, community members, and the university.

The School looks forward to continuing to work with the profession, our corporate partners, friends, local community, and the government to help make our vision a reality.