Every so often, a special person of unique ability profoundly influences others’ lives. For me, David Epstein, MD, was such an individual, although our association began only recently. At the 2013 annual meeting of the American Glaucoma Society, I had the good fortune to spend some time with him between sessions. Our discussion focused on how best to advance the field of glaucoma, and I asked if he would participate in a series of articles for Glaucoma Today detailing the basic scientific research that is the foundation of what is known about glaucoma. Despite his extraordinarily busy schedule, he kindly contributed an article, and Editorin- Chief Gillian McDermott and I changed our plan for GT’s September/October 2013 edition to focus on understanding glaucoma. I consider this issue to be a landmark in GT’s history. Little did I know that his article, “Schlemm Canal Surgery,” would be among his final scientific publications.1
Since David’s untimely death on March 4, 2014, the outpouring of affection and respect from friends and peers has been inspiring. His colleagues describe him as approachable and affable, qualities David combined with a keen intellect. His scientific contributions to the research on aqueous outflow and the strong relationships he forged over the years are undoubtedly the highlights of his professional career. During his 22 years as chairman of the Duke Eye Center, David grew the department to 73 faculty members and more than 300 staff members. The list of his awards is long. Recent ones include the 2012 Duke University School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award and the 2013 Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Few can equal David’s professional accomplishments, yet I would highlight his warmth and his passion to enhance the understanding and management of glaucoma through the development of clinician scientists. He helped foster a collegial environment and spirit of teamwork that will serve the glaucoma community well for years to come. His vibrant life exemplifies what makes this community special, and it sets a high bar for what can be accomplished by a single person committed to investing in the lives of others toward a common goal.
Steven D. Vold, MD
Chief Medical Editor
- Epstein DL. Schlemm canal surgery. Glaucoma Today. September/October 2013;11(5):46-49.