George O. Waring III, MD, FACS, FRCOphth, was more than an ophthalmic surgeon and innovator. He was a friend, a mentor, a teacher, and an inspiration to those who knew him.
Dr. Waring, who performed the first LASIK procedure in the United States in Atlanta, died Jan. 27 following a stroke. He was 73. He most recently served as professor emeritus of ophthalmology, Emory University, Atlanta.
As the news of Dr. Waring’s death spread among the ophthalmic community, many ophthalmologists paid their respects by recalling fond memories.
“George Waring was the first ‘academic’ keratorefractive surgeon, and the Prospective Evaluation of Radial Keratotomy (PERK) Study he spearheaded answered many questions about the safety and efficacy of that procedure, while also setting the standard for clinical trials of refractive surgical procedures to follow,” said Peter J. McDonnell, MD, director, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.
“I was delighted to work closely with George and get to know him well when I served as principal investigator for the 10 year follow-up study of the PERK patients, whose data showed that hyperopia shift and diurnal fluctuation were long-term issues with the surgery,” continued Dr. McDonnell, who is also chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.
Dr. McDonnell and Dr. Waring both worked together with H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, to form the American Academy of Ophthalmology's first special interest group and subspecialty day meeting to address the Academy members' desire for information about the merging field of excimer laser surgery.
“The universe of ophthalmology has lost one of its brightest Stars,” said Robert H. Osher, MD, professor of ophthalmology, University of Cincinnati and medical director emeritus of the Cincinnati Eye Institute. “George Waring III was larger than the entire galaxy. He was brilliant, energetic, and inspirational. On this globe, there was no mountain too high, no river too dangerous, and no topic too complex for George to master.