Abia State University, Uturu (former Imo State University) was established in 1981 during the tenure of the first Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari. The late Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, first civilian Governor of old Imo State, conceptualised the institution as a multi-campus university. The idea was to have multiple campuses which could be located in any part of the state. The name ‘Imo State University’ is testament to this concept as the institution at inception operated campuses in Aba (Law and Business colleges) and Etiti (Other colleges). Established by Law No. 4, as passed by the Imo State House of Assembly, following an executive bill sent by the above mentioned governor, it was conceived to enhance the opportunities available for residents of the state and its environ to access qualitative tertiary education.
During the succeeding military regime, its operations were regulated by Edict 27 of 1985 and another in 1986 which jettisoned the multi campus concept, moving the institution to its present location at Uturu in Isiukwuato, Abia State.
The Optometry undergraduate programme was one of the foundation courses in the university at inception. Upping the ante in optometric education in Nigeria, ABSU flagged off its training programme based on the 6-year, Doctor of Optometry (OD) model. This model placed much emphasis on a holistic approach to clinical/patient care, leaning more towards the Biological sciences, in line with a global shift in the ideological basis of the practice of optometry. The pioneer students of the programme were admitted in 1981 and by 1987, became the first set of Nigeria-trained Doctors of Optometry. Among them were Drs. Ebele Osude (now Prof (Mrs) E.B.UzoDike, current Registrar, ODORBN), Okechi U. Ndukauba (now Prof. O.U. Amaechi,) F.O. Iwuagwu (now Professor), Dominic Onwukwe (a US-based practitioner), Chukwudi Osuchukwu, Michael Opara, Uzoma Eze-Achiugo (now Mrs. Iroham), Ferdinand Ubanekwo, Kennedy Uba, Anthony Chinwike (late) and Nkem Maduagwu. Others include Kenneth Chiakpo (late), Okechukwu Mba, Gabriel Ojiako and Benedict Umezurike.
With the creation of Abia State from the old Imo State in 1991, the University was ceded to the new state leading to its rechristening to Abia State University, Uturu. The institution has continued to make giant strides in development, currently housing post-graduate programmes in Optometry, and the innovative FNCO/Ph.D combined programme.