Optometry loses one of its greatest: Dr. Irvin Borish

March 5, 2012

Dr. Borish

The “Father of Clinical Optometry,” Irvin Borish, O.D., DOS, died earlier this past weekend. He was 99.

Dr. Borish was from Pennsylvania and graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Optometry in 1934. He was on the school’s faculty for eight years, serving as director of clinics, before leaving for private practice in Indiana in 1944. He was instrumental in starting the Indiana University School of Optometry and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.

Dr. Borish authored many of the textbooks used in every optometry school in the country. He was granted five patents for contact lenses. He was a founding member of the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry, was a president of the Indiana Optometric Association and the editor of the Indiana Journal of Optometry. He served as adjunct faculty at many of the optometry schools.

He served as chair of the AOA Publications Committee and Commission on Optometric Technology. Among his many awards and achievements, he was the recipient of the prestigious AOA Apollo Award for the visual betterment of mankind in 1968 and the AOA Distinguished Service Award in 1989. He was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 1998. He painted in his spare time.

“I was fortunate to have known him for over 40 years, and I have the original edition of ‘Clinical Refraction’ by Borish that my father was studying for finals when I was born,” said AOA President-elect Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH. “I was particularly fortunate to teach with him while we were both on faculty at UHCO, and he taught me many things about life, leadership and the love of our profession. The last time I spent an evening with him was two years ago, and it was just my dad, Irving and myself. We closed the restaurant down, and I listened as the two of them told story after story about our profession’s heritage. They were both very young at heart that night. Dr. Borish had strong beliefs about how to move this then-fledgling profession forward, and I am truly amazed by the number of things in our profession that he touched – beyond refraction and his original contact lens designs.”


  1. A great icon is in deed gone! May his soul rest in peace!

  2. A great man that made a significant contribution in optometry profession!

  3. I have drawn back on dr borishs advice many times in past 40 yrs in practice ! From simple statements like ( a lense is not pill) to many other thoughts he taught us from 1968 to 1972 . He truly had a great influence on each peson that came in contact with him and will be always dear to all of our hearts .john geiser o.d.

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