ASCRS Announces 2017 Ophthalmology Hall of Fame Inductees

Source: American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery

The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) has announced that it will induct Gullapalli N. Rao, MD, and the late Karl Koller, MD, into the ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 6. The ceremony will be held at 10:30 am in West Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles during the Opening General Session of the ASCRS•ASOA Annual Symposium & Congress, May 5–9.

The ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame was created in 1999 to honor pioneers in the field who have laid the foundation for the modern practice of ophthalmology—and to celebrate their contributions and distinguished careers. ASCRS has inducted 57 members into the ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame, and annual meeting attendees may view an extensive collection of photographs, books, personal effects and other memorabilia at the ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame Lounge, which will be located in the convention center from Thursday, May 4, through Tuesday, May 9.

Gullapalli N. Rao, MD

Gullapalli N. Rao, MD, founded the LV Prasad Eye Institute in 1986 and serves as its chairman and director. The Institute is considered to be among the top eye institutes in the world and renowned for its innovative models of eye care delivery. The institute has played a pivotal role in global eye care over the past 15 years. The not-for-profit, state-of-the-art hospital treats patients regardless of their ability to pay and has served as a new model for health care. The institute has served 15 million people at its main center in Hyderabad along with three tertiary, 10 secondary, and 86 primary centers in a system that spans multiple states in India. Half of the institute’s patients do not pay, regardless of the complexity of their treatment.

Dr. Rao has authored over 300 papers and book chapters, has served on a number of editorial boards, has given multiple named lectures and has garnered numerous international awards for his service to eye care in public health.

Dr. Rao trained at the All India Institute for Medical Sciences in New Delhi. He then completed fellowship training at Tufts University in Boston, and the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. After completing his training, he practiced ophthalmology in the United States and taught at the University of Rochester. He specializes in cornea, eye banking, and corneal transplantation.

Karl Koller, MD

Karl Koller, MD, (1857-1944) was an Austrian ophthalmologist whose name appears in histories of surgery and anesthesiology. His great accomplishment was to bring cocaine and local anaesthesia into the collection of resources of the eye surgeon, an innovation that was adopted by all other surgical specialties.

Dr. Koller began his medical career as a surgeon at the Vienna General Hospital and a colleague of Sigmund Freud. He introduced cocaine as a local anesthetic for eye surgery. Prior to this discovery, he had tested solutions such as chloral hydrate and morphine as anesthetics in the eyes of laboratory animals without success. Freud was fully aware of the painkilling properties of cocaine, but Dr. Koller recognized its tissue-numbing capabilities, and in 1884 demonstrated its potential as a local anesthetic to the medical community.

Dr. Koller's findings were a medical breakthrough. Prior to his discovery, performing eye surgery was difficult because the involuntary reflex motions of the eye to respond to the slightest stimuli. Up to that point eye surgery was generally done without any anesthesia because of the danger of general anesthesia and inhalation techniques then available to the open eye. With local anesthesia, ophthalmic surgery blossomed.

Later, cocaine was also used as a local anesthetic in other medical fields such as dentistry. In 1888, Dr. Koller moved to the United States and practiced ophthalmology in New York. He received many distinctions in his career, including being honored by the American Ophthalmological Society as the first recipient of the "Lucien Howe Medal" in 1922. This award is given to physicians in recognition of outstanding achievements in ophthalmology. In 1930, he was also honored by the Medical Association of Vienna.

For more information on the ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame Ceremony and the 2017 ASCRS•ASOA Symposium & Congress, visit annualmeeting.ascrs.org.

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