Jose Rizal was a Filipino polymath and nationalist. An ophthalmologist by profession, Rizal turned towards writing and inspired the Philippine Revolution through his writings. The revolution eventually led to Philippine independence and Rizal became a national hero. His life has inspired several biographical films and TV series.
Chinese ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was one of the first to identify the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. In late 2019, he alerted his colleagues of an illness that resembled SARS but didn’t respond to usual treatment. He was reprimanded and later died of COVID-19. He is since regarded as a medical hero.
Mehriban Aliyeva is an Azerbaijani physician and politician. She is the current Vice President of Azerbaijan. The wife of Ilham Aliyev, Aliyeva is also the current First Lady of Azerbaijan. Mehriban Aliyeva is also the current Deputy Leader of the New Azerbaijan Party.
Born Richard Raskind, a boy, Renée Richards became an LGBT icon after winning a landmark case against the US Tennis Association and acquiring the right to compete in women’s tennis events in spite of her sex-change operation. She is also a qualified ophthalmologist and has trained the likes of Martina Navratilova.
Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath is remembered for her pathbreaking invention of the Laserphaco Probe, which made laser cataract surgery possible. The first Black female surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center and the first female faculty staff of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, she dedicated her life to curing blindness.
L. L. Zamenhof was an ophthalmologist best remembered for creating the most widely spoken international auxiliary language, Esperanto. He came up with the constructed language after being consumed by the idea of a warless world. L. L. Zamenhof received several honors for creating Esperanto, including the Légion d'honneur. He also received 12 nominations for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Fred Hollows became a renowned name in the field of ophthalmology after helping thousands of people see by restoring their sight. Born in New Zealand, Hollows later became an Australian citizen. He had initially aspired to join the clergy but had decided against it after visiting a mental institution.
Sixth century BC Indian surgeon Sushruta, known as the Father of Plastic Surgery, is best remembered for his treatise Sushruta Samhita, which is one of the fundamental texts on Ayurveda and medicine. Some of his surgical procedures included the surgery of the nose and the surgical removal of a dead fetus.
Part of the Mayo medical family of the U.S., Charles Horace Mayo had established the Mayo Clinic with his brother William James Mayo and others. He specialized in varied medical fields, mastering neurosurgery, goitre surgery, cataract operations, and other procedures. He later served the U.S. Army surgical team.
Govindappa Venkataswamy was an Indian ophthalmologist best remembered for his work which aimed at eliminating needless blindness. The founder of Aravind Eye Hospitals, Venkataswamy developed a high volume, high quality, and low-cost service delivery model that effectively restored sight to many people. Govindappa Venkataswamy was honored with the Padma Shri Award in 1973.
Svyatoslav Fyodorov not just made a name for himself as an ophthalmologist but had also stepped into Russian politics, contesting as a presidential candidate. One of the pioneers of refractive surgery, he developed radial keratotomy, the first surgical cure of myopia, or nearsightedness, and a surgical treatment for glaucoma, too.
Finnish-born Rebecka Belldegrun is not only an ophthalmic surgeon but also a billionaire businesswoman. While she initially launched a real-estate company, she later served as the CEO of the investment firm BellCo Capital LLC. She has also previously invested in the biotech and hotel industries and heads several corporate boards.
Allvar Gullstrand was a Swedish optician and ophthalmologist. He is best remembered for winning the 1911 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his study of the refraction of light in the human eye and of optical images. Allvar Gullstrand is also remembered for his research on astigmatism. Gullstrand also served as a professor at the University of Uppsala.
American ophthalmologist, inventor, surgeon, entertainer, jazz-musician, and Broadway producer Charles Kelman, called the father of phacoemulsification, is best-known for inventing phacoemulsification and several other surgical techniques and instruments used in cataract surgery. He received the National Medal of Technology from the then US President George H. W. Bush, the Lasker Award and was inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Frans Cornelis Donders was a Dutch ophthalmologist who also served as a professor of physiology at Utrecht University. A respected and internationally acclaimed ophthalmologist, Donders directed the Netherlands Hospital for Eye Patients for many years. Frans Cornelis Donders was also one of the three main founders of scientific ophthalmology along with Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz and Graefe.
Regarded as the pioneer of modern ophthalmology, Albrecht von Gräfe was born to German surgeon Karl Ferdinand von Graefe, known for his pathbreaking research on plastic surgery. He explained Gräfe’s sign, made the first legitimate use of the ophthalmoscope, and also launched an eye clinic deemed one of Europe’s best.
Ophthalmologist and Johns Hopkins University professor Arnall Patz was the first to find out the link between the oxygen used in incubators and blindness in infants. The Lasker Award-winning doctor also worked on laser treatment of retinal ailments, thus developing one of the world’s first argon lasers.