Wills Eye Glaucoma Service Marks 50th Anniversary

 

The 2013 Wills Eye Ball, held on October 19th, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Glaucoma Service of Wills Eye Hospital. The event included an international conference and a black tie dinner dance.

George L. Spaeth, MD, the founder of Wills’ Glaucoma Service and a leading international glaucoma expert, was honored for his pioneering and outstanding contributions to the field. He has written and published more than 360 articles in peer-reviewed journals, more than 100 book chapters, 200 editorials, and 18 books. Dr. Spaeth was an early adopter of personalized medicine, and he created the Spaeth gonioscopic grading system, one of the quintessential methods used around the world today for evaluating glaucoma.

“I am biased, but I thought it was the best scientific meeting I have ever attended anywhere!” Dr. Spaeth told Glaucoma Today. “Discussions ranged from what it means to go blind from glaucoma, from a physician who has gone blind from glaucoma, to the use of nanotechnology in glaucoma surgery. What characterized the meeting most was its remarkably warm collegiality, honesty, and frankness.”

Jonathan Myers, MD, an associate attending surgeon at Wills Eye and an organizer of the event, told GT, “It was so wonderful to see former fellows back at Wills, and the lectures that they gave were inspiring. The honorees were extremely deserving. Dr. Spaeth has truly been the ironman of glaucoma, having trained over 250 clinical and research fellows. Dr. Katz, the current director of the Glaucoma Service, is such a dedicated teacher, lecturing across the country, and always goes the extra mile for patients and colleagues. Wills always feels like a special place, but rarely have I felt so lucky to be a part of it.”

“A gala was held in honor of my wife and me; Ann was my most important mentor and died January 11, 2013,” Dr. Spaeth told GT. “The Hospital organized an absolutely superb event that was sensitive, respectful, held in a gracious setting at the Union League in Philadelphia, and attended by more than 400 people. The honored guests included Richard P. Wilson, MD, past president, American Glaucoma Society; L. Jay Katz, MD, director, Wills Eye Glaucoma Service; Leslie Stiff Jones, MD, residency program director, Howard University; and Gavin Herbert Sr, founder and chairman emeritus, Allergan, Inc. The flower arrangements were composed of freesia and roses. Freesia was the flower with which I courted Ann and was her favorite flower. There was a small sprig of freesia at every person’s place. The sensitivity of the planning committee in including such a touch was almost overwhelming. It was a moving, memorable event with great energy and love.”

 

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