In 1980, the promise of research to one day prevent blindness brought together the Lions of Illinois and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago to create a modern facility dedicated to vision research. The now late Lion Norman Dahl, president of the Lions of Illinois Foundation at the time, and Dr. Morton Goldberg, who was then head of the Department of Ophthalmology, led the effort to build a center for vision research on the UIC campus.
The Department’s research program had grown exponentially under Dr. Goldberg’s leadership, and could no longer be housed in the Eye and Ear Infirmary. Not only was there too little space to accommodate the number of researchers, what little there was could not adequately support modern research needs. The Lions of Illinois had long been collaborators with the Department in many endeavors, including the Glaucoma Screening Project. The Lions agreed to undertake the construction of a research building for the state to operate and maintain as a part of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Over the next five years, Lions Clubs throughout Illinois raised funds for building construction through grassroots efforts that yielded over $5-million – the largest single fundraising effort the Lions had ever undertaken. In 1986, the Lions of Illinois Eye Research Institute opened its doors.
“A dream of more than five years in the making was realized after the Lions of Illinois Eye Research Institute was dedicated at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, June 30th.”