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William H. Spencer
William H. Spencer, MD, internationally recognized ophthalmic pathologist died at the age of 92
Dr. Spencer was a leading figure in ophthalmic pathology and the editor of the classic Ophthalmic Pathology: An Atlas and Textbook. Throughout his lauded career, he served in various leadership roles at the Academy (Board of Trustees, Secretary for Continuing Education, Chair of the BCSC), the American Board of Ophthalmology (Executive Director) and the American Ophthalmological Society (President). He was a respected educator and recognized with numerous honors and awards. "Bill had a unique and encyclopedic memory for ophthalmic details," said his friend and former colleague Bruce E. Spivey, MD. "His absence will be deeply felt by all who knew him."
Joseph B. Walsh
Joseph B. Walsh, MD, distinguished physician, educator and humanitarian died at the age of 76
A retired chair and professor emeritus at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) of Mount Sinai, and former acting editor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Walsh was a lauded expert in medical and surgical retina. Throughout his distinguished career, he was committed to humanitarian work, and he received the Senior Honor Award from the Academy. “He was a tireless teacher and advocate for residents and fellows, and especially passionate about providing quality ophthalmic care to underserved populations in New York City and throughout the world,” said his colleague James Tsai, MD. “Joe left an indelible mark on NYEE, international ophthalmology and academic medicine.”
Robert C. Drews
Robert C. Drews, MD, leader in cataract surgery and lens implantation died May 9, 2017, at the age of 86
A pillar of his native St. Louis community, Dr. Drews completed medical training and residency and later served as emeritus professor at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). In addition to teaching and operating a private practice, Dr. Drews dedicated himself to service, as one of the first presidents of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, president of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology and board member of the American Board of Ophthalmology, and to more than 60 other ophthalmologic societies and organizations. Throughout his career, he traveled the globe to share innovative microsurgical techniques in more than 1,000 lectures—delivered in both English and Spanish—and contributed over 500 articles, books and book chapters. “The common theme that united his endeavors was his selfless pursuit of knowledge and understanding,” said Professor James C. Bobrow, MD, a friend and colleague at WUSM. After passing away, Dr. Drews’ body was donated to the School of Medicine.
Roger F. Steinert
Roger F. Steinert, MD, distinguished innovator and teacher died June 6, 2017, at the age of 66
Dr. Steinert passed away after a long illness. He was the Irving H. Leopold Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at the University of California Irvine and the inaugural director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute. His illustrious career was focused on cataract, refractive, and corneal surgery and novel applications of laser in ophthalmology. Among his many accomplishments were the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy, the Dohlman Award for Teaching Excellence, the OIS Innovator Award and tenure as president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. His lasting contributions to the field include his seminal Cataract Surgery textbook and more than 200 scientific papers and book chapters. “Roger was a prince of a person, and his loss is one for our entire profession,” noted Academy CEO David W. Parke II, MD. “He was a skilled clinician and surgeon, a gifted and insightful scientist and a dedicated steward of his profession. Roger will be remembered by his many, many friends as a genuinely good man with a keen sense of humor and tremendous laugh, and possessing a wonderful blend of professional authority and personal kindness. Our hearts go out to April and his entire family.”
Connie S. McCaa
Connie S. McCaa, MD, PhD, leading advocate for ophthalmology, died April 19, 2017, at the age of 79
During her long career as a lauded corneal transplant surgeon and LASIK expert, Dr. McCaa was a constant advocate for quality eye care. She served as the director of the division of cornea, external disease and refractive surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center for 25 years and president of the Mississippi Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons from 2003–2005. During her MAEPS tenure, she worked tirelessly to help defeat the optometric scope legislation and raise funds for M.D. Eye PAC.
An active member of the Academy, Dr. McCaa served as a councilor representing Mississippi and won the Secretariat Award for her work in implementing the Academy’s Residents’ Advocacy Program, which encourages advocacy and mentoring of residents and fellows. In 2014, she became the first women recipient of the Academy’s Hall of Fame award, which recognized her commitment to public policies supporting quality medical and surgical care. “Connie McCaa was an early role model for advocacy and a true champion for our profession and patients,” said Daniel Briceland, MD, the Academy’s senior secretary for advocacy. “She was truly a wonderful and gifted physician.”
Richard C. Troutman
Richard C. Troutman, MD, pioneer of ophthalmic microsurgery, died April 5, 2017, at the age of 94
Dr. Troutman served for 27 years as the head of ophthalmology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he established one of the first subspecialty ophthalmology programs in the United States and instituted microsurgical training for all residents. Throughout his career, he invented numerous surgical microscopes and instruments that laid the groundwork for current technologies. Dr. Troutman co-founded the Microsurgical Research Foundation and the International Society for Refractive Surgery (ISRS), and in 2000, he received the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “Microsurgery of the Anterior Segment of the Eye, one of many books authored by Richard Troutman, is the treatise on the fine art of ocular microsurgery,” said Academy President Cynthia Bradford, MD. “It is a treasure — one I would never loan out. A gifted surgeon and teacher and a true gentleman, Dr. Troutman will be missed and remembered as an icon of ophthalmology.”
William Tasman, MD, who transformed Wills Eye into a powerhouse, died March 28, 2017, at the age of 87.
Dr. William Tasman was ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Hospital from 1985 to 2009, where he trained 161 residents and 199 retinal fellows. Dr. Tasman also did his residency at Wills Eye Hospital and served as chief resident in 1960 and 1961.
“Few ophthalmologists of his generation had a more profound impact on our profession,” said David W. Parke II, MD, CEO of the Academy. “At the Academy, Dr. Tasman touched just about everything—from education to advocacy to the Annual Meeting to the Foundation. He chaired the Laureate selection committee until age 86. His impact on nearly every facet of Academy activity was equally significant.”
“Bill Tasman epitomized professionalism and civility in American ophthalmology,” Dr. Parke continued. “He was the consummate clinician and surgeon, an endearing teacher, a powerful leader whose style was marked by grace and humility, and a deeply principled man. He and his wonderful wife Alice Lea leave an indelible mark on our profession and on our personal lives.”
Dr. Tasman founded Mid-Atlantic Retina, formerly Retinovitreous Associates, Ltd. in 1974. He is a past president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Ophthalmological Society, and the Retina Society. Dr. Tasman is a founding member of both the Retina Society and the Club Jules Gonin Retina Society.
Interviewed by Retina Today in 2012, Dr. Tasman was asked about the greatest achievement of his professional career:
“It is tough to pull out a single achievement. I have had a special interest in pediatric retinal diseases, and I have followed some patients from the time they were premature infants until their 40s or 50s. To see that these people still have sight is pretty gratifying. Unfortunately, I cannot say they were all successes, but the ones who were certainly do make you feel good.”
A history buff, he enjoyed delving into how the eye injuries of important figures affected history and the arts. Included among the 19 books he authored is a History of Wills Eye Hospital. The last article he wrote for Ophthalmology in October 2016 offered historical perspective on the management of retinal detachment.
Eliot L. Berson
Eliot L. Berson, MD, leader in the field of inherited retinal diseases died March 19, 2017, at the age of 79.
Dr. Eliot L. Berson, was founding director of the Berman-Gund Laboratory for the Study of Retinal Degenerations, where his discoveries laid the foundation for understanding retinitis pigmentosa, and lead the way for new therapies for these disorders.
He was also distinguished professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and senior scientist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
In the 1960s he discovered that Electroretinography (ERG) could detect photoreceptor dysfunction early in life, prior to visual deterioration. Dr. Berson subsequently led research showing that dietary supplementation with Vitamin A, omega-3s and antioxidants could slow visual loss from the disease.
In the 1990s, he co-discovered the first genetic defect associated with retinitis pigmentosa, a point mutation in the rhodopsin gene. Further investigations yielded 20 more causative mutations for RP and other retinal degenerations, paving the way for research into possible treatments.
His most recent research involved safety and efficacy studies of investigational gene therapies in animal models of hereditary retinal degenerations.
Gunther K. von Noorden
Gunther K. von Noorden, MD, a pioneer in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus died Feb. 18, 2017, at the age of 89.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1928, Dr. von Noorden dedicated himself to helping others through medicine after barely surviving conscripted service during WWII. He moved to America in 1957 to complete his residency at the University of Iowa, followed by fellowship at the Tübingen Eye Clinic in Germany. Dr. von Noorden contributed more than 300 papers, wrote 4 books and served as president of the ISA, ARVO and AAPOS. He retired from Baylor College of Medicine as distinguished emeritus professor in 2010.