The Discovery Eye Foundation (DEF) was founded in 1970 by Rita and Morris Pynoos, as the Discovery Fund after their son Jon was diagnosed with keratoconus.
Originally working out of the labs at Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles, the research group moved to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills in the 1980?s and changed their name to the Discovery Eye Foundation.
Research being done by DEF caught the attention of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) who was planning to develop a world-class eye center. UCI extended an invitation to DEF to relocate their labs to Orange County and help anchor the research division of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, UC Irvine School of Medicine. DEF accepted the invitation and moved in 2002.