In December UC Davis Health welcomed patients to its new, state-of-the-art Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building, an innovative facility dedicated to advancing world-class eye care and offering hope for sight restoration.

The four-story, 78,500-square-foot building is an addition to the existing Ambulatory Care Center, and includes dedicated space for the UC Davis Eye Center clinic and operations. It also houses the Division of Pain Medicine.

The new facility will significantly increase the clinic’s capacity to see patients, with 64 examination rooms, 24 imaging rooms, state-of-the-art equipment to assess eye health, and a special pediatric ophthalmology suite. It also houses the Eye Center’s vision researchers, who have received prestigious grants from the National Eye Institute; the facility will increase the center’s capacity for clinical trials by an estimated 50 percent.

Current trials offered by the center include stem cell treatment for vision loss, low-energy laser trabeculoplasty therapy for glaucoma, micropulse laser treatment for diabetic macular edema, and others. The Center of Ocular Regenerative Therapies is researching gene and transplant therapies for inherited retinal diseases that, until now, have had no effective treatment.

Gary S. May, Ernest E. Tschannen and Mark J. Mannis at the dedication of the new building last fall.
Gary S. May, Ernest E. Tschannen and Mark J. Mannis at the dedication of the new building last fall.

The project began with an $18.5 million gift from Tschannen, whose sight was restored by an Eye Center ophthalmologist. Additional construction funding came from UC Davis Medical Center and other donors.

In 2000, Tschannen began losing his sight to glaucoma, which can result in vision loss and blindness when untreated. In 2011, his ophthalmologist referred him to the UC Davis Eye Center, where he underwent surgery by ophthalmologist Michele C. Lim, M.D., to improve his vision and manage his glaucoma.

In his remarks at a fall dedication, Tschannen said he hoped the facility would help people have better health and better lives for generations to come. He also gave special recognition to Lim, the medical director of the Eye Center, and thanked everyone for what they had done for him.

Tschannen’s lifetime giving totals exceed $38.5 million, making him UC Davis Health’s largest individual donor. His funds have supported research on the optic nerve and glaucoma.