Although the Institute of Vision and Optics was only recently established, it actually started operating in 1987 under the name EMMO (Laboratory of Transplants and Eye Microsurgery). Following a donation by Theodore Vardinoyiannis in 1989, EMMO purchases its initial equipment and is renamed into VEIC (Vardinoyiannion Eye Institute of Crete). During the last decade VEIC had developed highly important research activities, especially in the fields of refractive surgery and eye vision, which attracted the interest of the international ophthalmologic and optometric community. VEIC is part of the Department of Neurology and Sensory Organs of the University of Crete, School of Medicine and is directed by the Professor of Ophthalmology, Ioannis Pallikaris.
The Institute education activities commence at VEIC in 1989 with the organization of the Aegean Retina and Aegean Cornea international conferences. In 1999 the specialization seminars (Mini Fellowships) in refractive surgery commence and the International Ophthalmology Training Centre (IOTC) is founded. In 2003 the operation of the intradepartmental postgraduate program of studies entitled “OPTICS AND VISION” commences, with the participation of the University of Crete Departments of Medicine, Physics and Mathematics.
The selection of Athens as the city to host the 2004 Olympic Games, resulted in the need for a specialized centre of diagnosis/treatment/research as regards the athletes’ vision. The National Sports Vision Centre (NSVC) was established in 2002. In the past twenty years sports vision has scientifically and clinically been recognized as a specialized sports medicine area. It uses the know-how and potential of ophthalmology and optometrics not only for the diagnosis and correction/treatment of refractive disorders (e.g. myopia, astigmatism) of the athletes but also for the prevention and treatment of potential eye injuries, the improvement of the athletes' visual-kinetic reactions coordination, as well as informing the athletes and trainers/umpires of the “visual” requirements of athletes in the events they compete in. The aim of all the above is the improvement of the athletes’ performance during sports events. The Centre special services concern both the provision of medical services to athletes and referees/umpires and the establishment of a platform for conducting a series of research programs.
In 2005, following a decision of the University of Crete Senate, the Institute of Optics and Vision is established which coordinates the aforementioned activities and offers support through common support departments. Some of the support departments are the laboratories of electrophysiology, vision ergonomics, histology, eye imaging, as well as the laboratory of micro-engineering and the administrative services department.
The IVO short-term plans include the further development of the Institute activities and its move to independent facilities, which is necessitated by its rapid development both as regards its activities and its staff. The architectural plans of the new facilities are already drawn up and works are expected to start soon.