The ophthalmic community mourns the loss of Roger Steinert, MD, an internationally renowned and respected corneal, cataract, and refractive surgeon who pioneered advances in laser surgery techniques and corneal transplantation. Dr. Steinert passed away on June 6 at the age of 66 after a 2 ½-year battle with glioblastoma.
He was founding director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, University of California, Irvine (UCI), which opened in 2013, and at the time of his death was also the Irving H. Leopold Professor and Chair of UCI’s Department of Ophthalmology.
"Dr. Steinert was a dedicated and beloved member of our campus community who fervently advocated for the establishment and success of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute,” said Howard Gillman, UCI chancellor. "His bold vision, inspiring research and devotion to his colleagues, students and patients made him one of the most accomplished, celebrated and well-liked experts of his time."
Dr. Steinert was also a clinical professor at Harvard Medical School for 20 years before he joined UCI in 2004. He also served as president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) from 2005 to 2006.
He earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1977, was a fellow at the New England Eye Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Wellesley Hills, MA, and a resident at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI), Boston.
As director of MEEI’s Cornea Service, he demonstrated the safety of excimer lasers for refractive correction, which laid the groundwork for LASIK surgery.
Over the course of his career, he recieced the 2009 Life Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award from the New England Ophthalmological Society, and the 2016 Distinguished Clinical Achievement Award from Harvard Ophthalmology, to name a few.
After Dr. Steinert received his diagnosis in 2014, he decided to continue actively working, even attending the ASCRS meeting in Los Angeles a few weeks before his passing.
Shortly before he passed, an adult beverage—The Steinert—was named after him which is half vodka, half gin, garnished with blue cheese-stuffed olives. The “Steinert Challenge” was created as a fundraiser which encouraged peers and colleagues to sample the beverage in his honor and donate to The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute (www.eye.uci.edu) or The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (http://www.cancer.uci.edu/).
Dr. Steinert was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and would wear his team’s baseball hat whenever he had the chance.
He is survived by his wife, April, his three children, and three stepchildren.