The earliest description of modern ophthalmological practice goes back to the year of 1885 at'Kwang-hye Won' which later became 'Che-jung Won' as the first
western medical institution in Chosun Dynasty. In 1899, the first national hospital, 'Kwang-che Won', was opened with departments of internal medicine, general surgery, ophthalmology and otolaryngology.
The firstKorean ophthalmologist was Suk-hoo HONG, MD, with his license being issued in 1908.
The Korean Ophthalmological Society was inaugurated on November 1, 1947. Until then, the Society was a part of the Academy of Chosun Medicine. The first president of the Society
was Prof. Bong-heon YOON of Seoul National University. From 1952 the qualification of ophthalmologist has been regulated by law dictating that board certification requires both completion of the
residency program and passing the qualifying examination. In addition, the Society has endeavored to promote public education by appointing November 1 as 'The Day of Eye Health' since 1956, which
later became 'The Eye Day' on November 11, 1989. In 1949, the first academic meeting of the Korean Ophthalmological Society was held in Seoul.
The meeting has held annually from1949 to 1967, with the exception of the Korean war years of 1950 and 1951. From 1968, the meeting has been held biannually. All the while, the quality
of the academic meetings and the number of attendees has steadily increased. In 1958, the Journal of Korean Ophthalmological Society was first published.
During the 1960s, the ocular disease pattern noticeably changed with a decrease in infectious disease mainly due to the intraoduction of modern medicine,
including antibiotics and steroids.
For the correction of refractive errors, contact lenses were introduced and popularized over glasses especially to younger generations. During this period, a number of ophthalmologists
in academic institutions went abroad, mostly to Europe and the United States, to attend fellowship program. Upon their return, these newly trained young ophthalmologists played a
major role in advancing domestic ophthalmological practice, education and research of ocular diseases. The Society had 108 regular members and 40 associates by 1964. In the same year,
the first ophthalmology textbook in Korean was published by Prof. Won-sik YOON of Seoul National University.
During the 1970s, the Korean Ophthalmological Society became even more specialized in its scientific ability and training by consolidating its organizational structure and system. The
Society began to provide the academic meetings biannually together with regional meetings. At the 39th annual meeting in 1977, the chairman-centered administrative system was
introduced replacing the previous president-centered one. In relation with its global activities, the Society joined international ophthalmology associations and academic forums in 1970s.
Moreover, the members of the Society began to attend international ophthalmology symposiums, such as the meetings of the Asia-Africa Ophthalmological Society and Contact
Lens Association for Ophthalmologists. While having constantly paid attention to academic activities, the Society accomplished public activities providing free medical services to the
public in conjunction with the annual Eye Day activities on a voluntary basis. In 1972, the members of KOS performed medical activities for prevention and treatment of blindness.
One year later, the Korean Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness was established holding the first general meeting of founders and nominating the staff members.
During the 1980s, the Korean Ophthalmological Society experienced rapid change alongside the remarkable economic development of Korea. In particular,
young ophthalmologists enjoyed
opportunities to learn advanced medical technology and basic knowledge through the qualified training programs in the developed institutions abroad. With the introduction of new diagnostic
devices for surgery equipped with the latest knowledge, ophthalmologists in Korea began to perform operations with the most up-to-date techniques and made significant improvement to
the diagnosis and treatment of various ocular diseases. Also, the subspecialty societies were initiated in the same period. In 1984, the overseas branch of the Society was established in the
USA recognizing the significant contribution of Korean-American ophthalmologists to the development of ophthalmology in Korea. In 1989, the 12th Asian/Pacific Ophthalmology
Congress (APAO) was held in Seoul with 1,200 members including 550 foreign members presenting 286 sets of research results. In the same year, the official journal title was
changed to the 'Korean Journal of Ophthalmological Society'. The English summary has been published monthly since 1990, which became a key tool for sharing the ideas and
clinical results of their study internationally. In addition to the expansion of the Society, remarkable developments had been made in the ophthalmology field, including the
development of various advanced medical instruments, the introduction of new therapies, and the establishment of respective subspecialty societies.
From the 64th annual meeting of the Society in 1990, scientific conferences have been held by each subspecialty society. In 1991, the 4th International Cataract and
Refractive Surgery Annual
Symposium and Congress was held in Seoul. The ophthalmologic terms were consolidated, and set as the standard for scientific papers. The abbreviated English title for the Korean Journal of
Ophthalmological Society was changed from 'J Korean Ophth Soc' to 'J Korean Ophthalmol Soc'. and its international recognition was raised by registering an English abstract of the relevant articles
on the Ophthalmic Literatures. In 1993, the training period of the residency program was extended from 3 years to 4 years. In 1994, the Society initiated the scientific exchange of Korea-China-Japan
Ophthalmology by holding the biannual Korea-Japan Ophthalmology Congress and Korea-China Ophthalmology Congress. In 1997, the 50th anniversary of the Korean Ophthalmological Society
after its foundation was celebrated in conjunction with the 39th annual meeting of the Society in Seoul. A quarterly bulletin 'News of the Korean Ophthalmological Society' was released for the
purpose of exchanging news and information among the members. The homepage of Korean Ophthalmological Society is linked to the 'Digital Journal of Ophthalmology' of Harvard University
with the website address as 'http://www.ophthalmology.org'. Following the opening of special ocular disease clinics within university hospitals, ophthalmic practice has been consistently updated
with the newly introduced surgical methods and medical devices in addition to the latest knowledge in diagnosing and treating the ocular disorders.
In the year of 1998, a pilot project of DRG (Diagnosis Related Group) payment system was introduced. In March of 2005, 'the Cornea Donation Year 2005' promulgation ceremony was
performed receiving the pledge of corneal donation over 750 KOS members in order to create public awareness for corneal donation. The Korean Ophthalmological Society biannually has provided free
medical service and public education about ophthalmologic diseases under the title of 'Eye is another life'. The Society set November 11 as 'The Eye Day' to be followed by a week of special
activities for the public.
As the attendees of the academic conference increase in number, the scale of the facilities for the convention has been expanded. Since the biannual congress of 2003,
the Society needed a
more expanded venue for the academic conferences and subspecialty meetings and designated the convention centers such as BEXCO (Busan Exhibition & Convention Center) and KINTEX (Korea
International Exhibition Center). Since then, more members have been inspired to attend the scientific meetings and share new information. In November 2007, the 60th anniversary of the
Society was performed in conjunction with the 98th KOS academic congress at KINTEX with more than 200 presentations and 1800 participants to celebrate its achievement. The entire text of the
Korean Journal of Ophthalmology has been made accessible through Pubmed, and currently planned to be registered in SCI (Scientific Citation Index). The Society members enthusiastically conducted
research activities and presented their works in international academic meetings around the world. These efforts have led the hosting several international conferences in Korea. The 3rd congress of
Asian-Oceanic Glaucoma Society (AOGS) was held in 2001, and the first Asian Angle-Closure Glaucoma Club (AACGC) conference was held in 2002. Each subspecialty society published
materials for the education of residents, including textbooks and disease synopsis.
The beginning of the 21st century has seen the Korean Ophthalmological Society make a rapid development in each field in ophthalmology. The future international status of
the Korean Ophthalmological Society will be enhanced by these academic activities and the marked contribution to the continuing development of clinical activities.