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Wills Eye Hospital
WEH LOGO-willseyeorg 2.png
Location 840 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Hospital type Specialist
Affiliated university Thomas Jefferson University
Speciality Ophthalmology
Founded 1832

Wills Eye Hospital is a non-profit eye clinic and hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1832 and is the oldest continually operating eye-care facility in the United States. It is affiliated with the medical school of Thomas Jefferson University.

Since 1990, Wills Eye Hospital has consistently been ranked one of the top three ophthalmology hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report and its ophthalmology residency program is considered one of the most competitive residency programs in the world.


James Wills Jr., a Quaker merchant, was instrumental in the founding of Wills Eye through his bequest of $116,000 in 1832 to the City of Philadelphia. Wills stipulated that the funds were to be used specifically for the indigent, blind, and lame. Over the years it evolved into solely an eye hospital. The first Wills Eye Hospital opened in 1834 near Logan Circle at 18th & Race Streets.

Early surgeons at Wills Eye included Isaac Parrish, M.D. and Isaac Hays, MD, George Fox, M.D., and Squier Littell, M.D., who in 1837 wrote "A Manual of Diseases of the Eye." In 1854, Littell also co-edited "A Treatise on Operative Ophthalmic Surgery" with Henry Haynes Walton.

Historic building

Wills Eye Hospital
Phila WillsEyeHospital00.jpg
Wills Hospital location from 1932-1980 (building located at 1601 Spring Garden Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Area 0.8 acres (0.32 ha)
Built 1931-1932
Architect John T. Windrim
Architectural style Federal Tuscan
NRHP reference No. 84003582
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 12, 1984

The Centennial Building of Wills Eye Hospital was designed by architect John T. Windrim and built in 1931-1932. It is a six-story, brick building measuring 154 by 157 feet (47 by 48 m). The front facade features a portico with eight Tuscan order columns. The building is now residential apartments.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Medical achievements

Wills Eye has pioneered many techniques in the field of ophthalmology, including:

  • Artificial intraocular lens implant (1952), Warren Reese, MD and Turgut Hamdi, MD
  • Invention of a vitrectomy machine (1972), Jay Federman, MD
  • Artificial retinal implant (2009), Julia Haller, MD, Allen Ho, MD and Carl Regillo, MD

Senior officials

  • Joseph Bilson, Executive Director, Wills Eye (2007–present)
  • Julia A. Haller, MD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Wills Eye (2007–present)
  • Tasman, William. The History of Wills Eye Hospital Lippincott, 2nd edition (1987). ISBN: 0-397-50918-9
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