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American Academy of Ophthalmology Celebrates Father’s Day with a Glimpse into an Ophthalmic Legacy that Spans Three Generations

06/11/2012   11:00:00 AM

Father and Daughter Eye M.D.s Add Oral Family History to the Museum of Vision's Collection

SAN FRANCISCOThe American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Museum of Vision today announced a new addition to its oral histories collection. In honor of Father's Day, the new oral history chronicles three generations of ophthalmologists through a conversation between James Ravin, M.D. and his daughter Tracy Ravin, M.D.

The Museum of Vision's oral histories collection uses one-on-one conversations to help document advances in training, surgical techniques and medications for eye diseases and conditions. The audio vignettes provide personal accounts on how the field of ophthalmology has evolved from one generation to the next, building on the museum's Legacy Project.  The Legacy Project is a joint effort with the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Senior Ophthalmologists to celebrate families with multiple generations of ophthalmologists and tell their stories.   

The Ravin family oral history recounts how Dr. James Ravin's father, Louis C. Ravin, M.D., entered ophthalmology during the Depression. During his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Dr. Ravin encountered Albert Einstein and ophthalmologist Carl Koller, who was the first to discover that cocaine could be used as a topical anesthetic for the eye.  

"Why did I decide on this career path, too?" pondered James Ravin, M.D. "In a sense I might have been subtly programmed for life." Friends and family members encouraged him to consider other fields, but he ultimately decided to follow in his father's footsteps.  

Tracy Ravin, M.D., continues the ophthalmic legacy which includes her father, James Ravin, grandfather, Louis Ravin, and great uncle, Oscar G. Ravin. "I feel very lucky to have had the exposure to ophthalmology in the family," she said.  

For Dr. Tracy Ravin, the rise in female ophthalmologists has also been a notable advancement. "The field changed… my residency group of six residents included five women," she noted. Before Tracy's training at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Fla., she says there was an average of one female resident each year in the program.  

Another highlight of the piece is James Ravin's interest in art history. He shares findings from his studies on the vision of famous artists, including Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Vincent van Gogh and Edgar Degas.  

"The one that had the most impact is undoubtedly the story of the famous impressionist artist Claude Monet, concerning his cataract surgery," says Dr. Ravin. "It was based on items I found that hadn't been published before. I had the opportunity to talk to the lab technician of Monet's last ophthalmologist...and published it as a cover story in JAMA. It got a huge amount of coverage in the media, even internationally."  

The oral history conversation between Drs. James and Tracy Ravin was recorded on October 22, 2011 during the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in Orlando, FL. To listen to the conversation between the Ravins and to learn more about the world of ophthalmic history visit,

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve their healthy vision, by providing the most trustworthy and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. Visit to learn more.

About the Museum of Vision
The Museum of Vision is an educational program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It is the only institution in the United States whose sole purpose is to preserve the history of ophthalmology and celebrate its unique contributions to science and health. The Museum of Vision strives to inspire an appreciation of vision science, the ophthalmic professions and contributions made toward preventing blindness. For more information on the Museum of Vision, visit


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