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August 2009

The Current Face of Ophthalmic Pathology

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(8):1048-1049. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.194

In the last 150 years, ophthalmic pathology as a defined discipline has taken shape thanks to the organized efforts of both ophthalmologists and pathologists. Ophthalmic pathology has steadily contributed to the advancement of the understanding of ocular diseases and the origin, behavior, prognosis, and treatment of ocular and periocular tumors. The practice of ophthalmic pathology has undergone changes mandated mostly by external circumstances and also by the advancement of science and technology.1,2 In the early stages of the specialty, pioneers in the field like Dr James Wardrop were clinicians who had a special interest that took them beyond the clinical presentation into the pathologic processes of disease. Dr Wardrop studied the pathology of retinoblastoma in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the United Kingdom.1,2 Frederick Verhoeff and Jonas Friedenwald were notable pioneers of the eye pathology field in the first half of the 20th century. In the second half of the 20th century, there were both ophthalmologists and pathologists who worked full time in ophthalmic pathology and contributed to most of the knowledge we currently have for the discipline. In America, Professor Lorenz E. Zimmerman of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, trained many great ophthalmic pathologists, some of whom are currently practicing. In Europe, Professor Norman Ashton from London, England, also trained many in the field. All helped shaped what we now know as the basis of ophthalmic pathology by describing their findings, publishing peer-reviewed manuscripts and books, and most importantly sharing their knowledge and experience with many physicians interested in ocular pathology and the study of tumors of the eye.

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