In 1951, the General Assembly of the State of Indiana established a program in optometry at Indiana University. The first year of preoptometry courses was offered beginning in the fall semester of 1951–52, the first professional courses were offered in 1953–54, and the first Master of Optometry (M.Opt.) degrees were awarded in 1956. In recognition of the vital role of vision research, the graduate degree programs in physiological optics were early priorities (M.S., 1953; Ph.D., 1955).

The program in optometry operated as a division of the university, with its degrees granted by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School, until the 1975–76 school year, at which time it became a degree-granting school of the university.

A continuous fund was created to support the establishment of the optometry program by adding a special fee to the annual license renewal fee of each practicing optometrist in Indiana. Additional funds and gifts, including a substantial collection of library books, were contributed through the auspices of the Indiana Optometric Association. As a permanent endowment program, the Optometry School Trust Fund was created as a division of the Indiana University Foundation for the general purpose of receiving and accepting gifts, bequests, pledges of money, etc., for the benefit of the optometric work to be carried on at Indiana University.

The building for the Division of Optometry and the Program in Physiological Optics was completed in 1967. This six-story, limestone-faced building is located on East Atwater Avenue and provides space for classrooms, laboratories, offices, student resource center, and supporting research and development activities. In 1992, the School of Optometry opened the Indianapolis Eye Care Center (IECC) in a newly constructed building at 501 Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis. Offering an expanded scope of patient care services, the IECC is located near the campus of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. Fourth-year optometry students receive additional clinical training through external rotations at locations such as Veterans Administration facilities, Indian Health Service clinics, military hospitals, and referral centers.

In 1971, in cooperation with the then-existing Division of General and Technical Studies of Indiana University, the School of Optometry established a two-year program for the preparation of optometric technicians. In 1980, the Indiana University School of Optometry established a two-year program for the training of opticians. In 1987, the School of Optometry combined the optician and technician programs into one. In 2013 a certificate program was initiated for the Optician/Technician program.

In 1995, a portion of the clinic in the Optometry Building was dedicated as the Borish Center for Ophthalmic Research. The center’s mission is to abet and develop clinical and applied research support and to facilitate investigations in visual disorders, ocular pathologies, and systemic diseases that affect the eye and its adnexa. The Borish Center provides an arena for the development of clinical researchers in vision and for the training of graduate students, residents, and fellows.

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