Architect rendering of large white building against blue sky

Architectural rendering of proposed Wake Forest Baptist Health Eye Institute

The Wake Forest Baptist Health Eye Center, a multi-specialty ophthalmology practice providing comprehensive care for patients throughout the Piedmont Triad, western North Carolina and surrounding regions, has outgrown its current space. Our goal is to establish a new world-class clinical, surgical and educational Eye Institute for our region. 

The new Eye Institute is a bold and important step in serving our community and widening the array of services that we are able to offer to those needing expert eye care in our region. Our patients will benefit from a new and larger space to guarantee the best possible patient experience with a growing team of providers, and the location will ensure that our entire community benefits from more accessible eye care – including underserved neighborhoods.

Aerial view of Winston-Salem Innovation Quarter and future site of the Eye Institute Located in downtown Winston-Salem within the central region of Innovation Quarter, aka iQ2, the new Eye Institute will accommodate:

  • Clinic/exam services – adults and pediatrics
  • Diagnostic and testing, including imaging, laser suites and support spaces
  • Operating rooms and support spaces
  • Optical shop and optometry exam areas
  • Spaces for research, education and collaboration opportunities

On any given day, our Eye Center hosts about twice as many patients as it was designed to accommodate. In 2018 there were some 75,000 patient visits in our Janeway Tower location, which was designed for 35,000 annual visits. Because good vision and good outcomes are critical to patients’ quality of life, many have tolerated the current facility so they could be treated by our outstanding faculty and teammates. As the new Eye Institute improves the patient experience, it also allows for greater accessibility and prepares for an anticipated increase in the demand for care:

  • Pediatrics: Need for early identification and treatment of eye disease.
  • Aging: With our aging population, it is estimated that macular degeneration will affect more than 30 million people by 2020, roughly 10 percent of the population, a number that will certainly rise.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and diabetic blindness is on the rise.
  • Other eye diseases: Incidence of cataracts, glaucoma and other vision-threatening eye diseases are rapidly increasing in our country.

Expanded space also affords continued growth of our research and educational programs ensuring new treatments and learnings. Over the past decade, we:

  • Doubled the size of our three-year residency program to four residents per year.
  • Started a fellowship program that now has four specialty training positions.
  • Continued to teach medical students — those who will become ophthalmologists and those who will pursue primary care and other disciplines but who will benefit from a basic knowledge of eye disorders.

With a great and growing need for ophthalmic technicians who perform initial patient evaluations, we are partnering with the state community college system to design a certification and education program to include hands-on learning in our Eye Institute. To accommodate our current and future needs, our new Eye Institute will include a large teaching space with seating for up to 100, small education rooms and a surgical wet lab to enhance training opportunities.

Our Eye Center has worked with the National Eye Institute and with the pharmaceutical industry on clinical trials that are advancing new treatments and cures for common eye diseases, particularly diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. We are committed to investigating and developing promising new techniques as we continue our fight against blinding ocular diseases that affect everyone, from children to adults to senior patients. A new Eye Institute will make this — and more — possible.