History, Mission, Values

History Mission Values


The University of Texas Medical Branch, the state's oldest academic health center, also is home to the oldest ophthalmology department in the Southwest.

As the University of Texas medical school was opening in Galveston in 1891, ophthalmology also was emerging as a new branch of medicine. Ophthalmology migrated from being a subspecialty of surgery to a unique medical discipline dealing with many diverse disorders and their effects on the eyes. The ophthalmologist became equally a physician and surgeon of the eye.

Eye care has been a core specialty at UTMB since 1897 when Dr. George P. Hall became the first chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. By 1922, ophthalmology had become a separate department. It evolved into the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (OVS) in 1994. The department has trained more eye doctors that any other medical school in the region.

Today UTMB Health physicians in the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences see about 24,000 eye patients and perform about 1,800 eye surgeries each year. Under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Merkley, the department strives to create an exceptional academic environment, provide patients with compassionate, leading-edge-eye care and conduct innovative research aimed at preserving the gift of sight.

Our Mission

To be a leading international ophthalmology center providing excellence in patient service, education, research and leadership based on our core values of compassion, professional integrity, competence and teamwork.

Our Vision

Our educational programs enable skilled doctors to become outstanding ophthalmologists who will be leaders in patient care and research. Our comprehensive and sub-specialty clinical care programs support our educational programs and represent our commitment to the vision health and well-being of all Texans through preventive, diagnostic and treatment services. Our researchers discover new and innovative approaches to the understanding and treatment of eye-related conditions and diseases.

Our Values

We are committed to an excellent patient experience. We strive to provide patients with the highest quality of care in a professional, respectful, and compassionate manner. We are committed to our Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences team. We strive to treat all team members — physicians, trainees, and staff — with fairness, respect and transparency. We are committed to leadership. We strive to build leadership at all levels of the department and to apply its lessons on a daily basis. We are committed to growth and innovation. We strive to build leading-edge education, research and clinical programs that position us to better serve the public.

Education, Patient Care and Research


UTMB Health Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (OVS) in Galveston, Texas, is one of the nation's leading institutions for the research and treatment of eye diseases and the oldest in the Southwest. Eye care has been a core specialty at UTMB Health since 1897 and a separate department since 1922.

The department strives to create an exceptional academic environment, provide patients with compassionate care and conduct innovative research aimed at preserving the gift of sight.

Education: Training future leaders

  • Mission: To train residents in a challenging yet nurturing environment to be leaders in their field
  • Trained more ophthalmology residents than any other medical school in the Southwest
  • 11 clinical faculty members teach the next generation of ophthalmologists
  • Comprehensive resident training includes excellent patient care, vision-saving research and community service (hundreds of uninsured patients cared for at St. Vincent's House Eye Clinic in last 10 years)
  • State-of-the-art surgical training with a virtual reality simulator (one of few nationwide)

Patient Care: Compassionate, Excellent, Comprehensive

  • Expert comprehensive and specialty eye care at UTMB Health Eye Centers (Galveston, Texas City, and Friendswood), UTMB Health Victory Lakes (League City), Texas Prison Hospital (Galveston), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), St. Vincent's House (Galveston)
  • Diagnose and treat macular degeneration, diabetic-related eye diseases, glaucoma, diseases of the retina, cataracts, eye injuries and more
  • Top priority is excellent customer service, earning UTMB Health Eye Centers exceptional patient satisfaction ratings
  • Optometry services at full-service Optical Center in Galveston and Texas City
  • Most advanced diagnostics and equipment (i.e. only center in Southeast Texas providing newest vision-saving glaucoma surgery with Trabectome)

Research: Vision-saving breakthroughs

  • Strive for the discovery of new, innovative approaches to diagnosis and treat eye diseases
  • Complete research environment from research lab to patient care