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Charles L. Schepens, MD

  • Presented: 
    1999
  • Recognition: 
    ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame

“The current practice of ophthalmology owes a great deal to the brilliance and energy of Charles Schepens.” 
—Elliot M. Perlman, MD, New England Ophthalmological Society

Charles Schepens is considered by many to be the father of modern retinal surgery. Born in Belgium, he served in the Belgian Air Force and the French Resistance during World War II. He was captured twice by the Gestapo, but survived to emigrate to the U.S. in 1947. Shortly thereafter, he established the Retina Foundation, now known as the Harvard-affiliated Schepens Eye Research Institute. It is the largest independent eye research organization in the U.S., a living legacy to the basic biomedical and clinical eye research Schepens thought so important. He invented the indirect binocular ophthalmoscope, which is now routinely used to view the retina. His devices and surgical techniques such as scleral buckling have been credited with raising the success rate of retinal reattachment surgery from 40% to 90%. Before his death in 2006, Schepens was a professor emeritus of Harvard University. He was the founder of Retina Associates in Boston, where he continued to practice until his death.