Eye Institute step closer to opening

UC Irvine will open its first clinical building since 1988 with the completion of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

The institute aims to provide educational programs, technologies and patient health solutions to aide visual wellness and performance.

With the foundation of the building nearly done, supporters and employees celebrated Tuesday with a "topping-off" ceremony. The clinic itself will open next summer.

The ceremony, led by James Mazzo, president of Abbott Medical Optics Inc., honored Gavin Herbert, Roger's Gardens owner, for his contributions, and informed attendees on what to expect from the new institute.

UCI Chancellor Michael Drake said that the institute is the first clinical translational building and that it has a goal of raising $36 million before opening day.

As of Tuesday afternoon, $29.5 million has been raised in part thanks to a large contribution by Mazzo, Drake said.

Dr. Roger Steinert, director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, said that the center created innovative treatments for degenerate diseases.

The goal was to make these health issues "historical footnotes," he said.

"We wanted to create a center that would provide for the community but simultaneously provide a greater purpose to unite this great university, with all its resources and talent, with a supportive community and a uniquely eye-oriented technology community to create a global leader in restoring vision," Steinert said.

The 70,000-square-foot building will feature an ambulatory operating room with a laser cataract procedure room and two operating suites.

The eye clinic, an estimated 8,000 square feet, will include multiple laser procedure rooms and innovative diagnostic imaging technology. More than 1,500 square feet will be used as education and conference space.

"This has been a 40-year-goal, so it's really great to see this all brought together," Herbert said. "One of the key things is Orange County is the center of eye research in the world, and this fills a missing gap by having a center to test new products and ideas, and provide jobs."

For more information, visit ghei.uci.edu.


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