Anatomy of the eye comes to light

Eugene Wolff was an ophthalmologist born in South Africa. Wolff's Anatomy of the Eye and Orbit was published for the first time in 1933. His other contributions to ophthalmic education included Pathology of the Eye, first published in 1934, and Diseases of the Eye, first published in 1937. These three textbooks, covering the anatomy of the eye, diseases of the eye, and pathology of the eye, were English-language standards for 30 or more years.

Eugene Wolff (1896–1954), an ophthalmologist born in South Africa, immigrated with his family to England soon after his birth. He attended the University College of London and received his medical degree in 1918 from London University College Hospital. He then returned to South Africa, where he spent 1 year in the Medical Corps refining his medical and surgical skills. In 1920, he returned to London and began his studies to become an ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmic anatomy and pathology intrigued him and occupied a large portion of his early education. His interest and ability in these areas prepared him for his position as instructor of anatomy at the medical school from 1919 through 1930. He also taught at the Slade School of Art. In 1925, he wrote his first book Anatomy for Artists, which went through three editions, the last being published in 1952.

Additional texts

Wolff's other contributions to ophthalmic education included Pathology of the Eye, a textbook with great photographs and illustrations of ocular pathology. It was published in 1934 and went through three editions. In 1937 he wrote a book entitled Diseases of the Eye, which went through four editions, the last one published in 1953.

During his lifetime, Wolff was honored by the Ophthalmic Society of the United Kingdom and the ophthalmology sections of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Association. Each one of these associations chose him as their vice president, and only his premature death at age 58 prevented him from being their president.

In 1947, Wolff was awarded the Mackenzie Memorial Medal from the University of Scotland and that same year, the Greek and Belgium ophthalmic societies made him an honorary member.

The next time you need to find an answer about the anatomy of the eye or the orbit, remember Eugene Wolff, one of our ophthalmic pioneers. Look at one of his texts from time to time; your eyes will be pleased.

Norman B. Medow, MD, FACS, is director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, and chairman of the Museum of Vision at the Foundation of the AmericanAcademy of Ophthalmology.