FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA–(June 24, 2015)–Today, with deep sadness, the ASCRS and ASCRS Foundation announced the passing of world-renowned ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon Robert M. Sinskey, MD. Dr. Sinskey was an ophthalmic pioneer who played an important role in the development and acceptance of phacoemulsification. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing for over 20 years, he, along with Richard Kratz, MD, personally trained over 3,500 early phacoemulsification adopters.
Dr. Sinskey served as medical director emeritus of the Southern California Lion’s Eye Institute, clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, and on the staff at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. He also patented his internationally popular modified J-loop intraocular lens (IOL), invented several surgical instruments, and pioneered the use of low-power IOLs and IOLs in children with cataracts.
“Bob Sinskey was an outstanding surgeon, innovator, teacher and humanitarian. He was an early proponent and practitioner of phacoemulsification and taught the technique in courses throughout the world— as well as during his own popular course in Santa Monica. The Sinskey hook, an instrument he devised, is probably the most widely used instrument in cataract/ implant surgery, and his intraocular lens design was one of the most widely used lenses world-wide,” said ASCRS Past President (1987-1989) Stephen A. Obstbaum, MD.
Dr. Sinskey served as ASCRS president in 1999, was inducted into the ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame in 2005, and was an ASCRS Foundation board member since its inception in 2002. It was through the ASCRS Foundation that he realized that another one of his life’s ambitions was to bring high-quality charitable eyecare to Ethiopia.
The ASCRS Foundation’s Robert Sinskey Eye Institute is now the largest charitable eye hospital in the capital city of Addis Ababa, treating over 16,000 patients annually and helping to train the next generation of Ethiopian surgeons. Dr. Sinskey’s vision will continue on in Ethiopia and will serve as a lasting reminder of his tireless efforts to leverage ophthalmology, as a means for improving peoples’ lives.
“…the mark of this man was his giving nature and his willingness to share his knowledge with his colleagues. In the true spirit of giving, he and his wife Loraine generously supported the Sinskey Eye Institute in Ethiopia and have watched it grow from its modest beginnings to one that now cares for thousands of patients each year,” said Dr. Obstbaum. “Bob was a wonderful friend and possessed at great sense of humor, but he would also let you know when there was something on his mind by mumbling some pithy comment. We will miss Bob—but he will be remembered by the contributions he made to our profession, the ophthalmologists and fellows he taught and the friends whose lives he enriched.”
Dr. Sinskey served as guest faculty and surgeon in more than 100 symposia and had more than 200 speaking engagements around the world. He published more than 30 journal articles and textbook chapters, as well as a revised monograph on phacoemulsification. Dr. Sinskey received his medical degree from and performed his ophthalmology residency at Duke University School of Medicine. From 1951 to 1953, he was assigned to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, where he studied the eyes of bombing victims. In 1955, Dr. Sinskey became the first full-time instructor and opened the eye service at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
ASCRS and the ASCRS Foundation joins the ophthalmic community in mourning Dr. Sinskey’s passing, and in celebrating his many accomplishments, his generosity, and the legacy he leaves behind.
The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery is an international, educational society with 9,000 members. Its mission is to advance the art and science of ophthalmic surgery and the knowledge and skills of ophthalmic surgeons by providing clinical and practice management education and by working with patients, government, and the medical community to promote the delivery and advancement of high-quality eye care. ASCRS.org
The ASCRS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, which works to support physician education and to provide humanitarian cataract surgery in the United States and the developing world. Through its programs and partnerships, the foundation works to maximize the benefits of modern ophthalmology and to treat thousands of needy patients, each year. ASCRSFoundation.org