The American Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology was organized in 1957, by a nucleus of clinicians interested in ophthalmology; only a few had advanced graduate training. Society membership grew rapidly in the next few years, including a sufficient number of persons with graduate training from medical and/or veterinary schools to make possible the establishment of a specialty board for certification in ophthalmology.

In 1967, Dr. William G. Magrane called together an organizing committee for the proposed American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® (ACVO). The precedent for specialty colleges had been set by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 1951, when the American College of Veterinary Pathologists was established. The first meeting of the proposed ACVO was held March 13, 1967 at the Animal Medical Center, New York City. Other members of the organizing committee were Drs. Roy Bellhorn, Seymour Roberts, Lionel Rubin, and Samuel Vainisi. Formal application was submitted to the AVMA in June 1969. Probationary acceptance was followed by full approval in 1974.