• Steven Charles, MD, is the recipient of the 2018 Laureate Recognition Award for his work as a leader of and catalyst for the incredible advances in vitreoretinal surgery since its introduction in the 1970s.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is pleased to honor Dr. Charles with this award, which recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of eye care, leading to the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight worldwide.

    Acknowledged as one of the premier and most influential developers and designers in this portfolio of surgical techniques, Dr. Charles has been a principal architect for the instrumentation used by the vast majority of retinal surgeons across the globe. His creativity and innovation has facilitated improvements that assist surgeons in immeasurable ways.

    Dr. Charles initially studied mechanical and electrical engineering as an undergraduate, then completed his medical training at the University of Miami, where he conducted research at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. After his residency in ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer, he completed a two-year clinical associate appointment at the National Eye Institute, where he focused on vitreoretinal surgery, angiogenesis research and medical device engineering.

    An innovator in internal fluid/gas exchange, bipolar manual diathermy, endophotocoagulation, retinotomy and retinectomy, subretinal surgery and scissors segmentation and delamination of epiretinal fibrovascular membranes, Dr. Charles holds more than 100 already-issued or pending patents. They include vitreous cutters, intraocular micro instruments, operating microscope systems, foot pedals and robotic systems to facilitate surgery. His classic textbook, “Vitreous Microsurgery,” is in its fifth edition and published in six languages. He also has published over 170 articles and 50 book chapters.

    In addition to his contributions to ophthalmology, Dr. Charles has pioneered the development of robots for dexterity enhancement that are used for minimally invasive joint replacement, spine surgery and skull-based neurosurgery.

    Dr. Charles has practiced in Memphis, Tenn., for more than 40 years and is a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Hamilton Eye Institute at the University of Tennessee. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Wacker Prize from the Club Jules Gonin and the first Founders Medal from the American Society of Retina Specialists. He was also the first non-anterior segment surgeon to deliver the Kelman Lecture at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

    With his inimitable enthusiasm, innovative entrepreneurial spirit and characteristic energetic speaking style, Dr. Charles is an icon whose impact on the medical world extends well beyond the vitreoretinal community. He is a frequent lecturer around the world and has performed and taught surgery in over 25 nations.