In Memory of Dr. Richard C. Troutman, ISRS Co-Founder, Innovator, Gifted Clinician
The ISRS community mourns the passing of Richard C. Troutman, MD, DSC, one of the most significant pioneers in the field of refractive surgery, and co-founder of the society now known as the International Society of Refractive Surgery (ISRS). Dr. Troutman passed away at his home in Bal Harbour, FL, on April 5, 2017, at the age of 94.
"Every specialty in medicine is advanced by the academic fellowship and pursuit of excellence by all of us as a united group. It is nevertheless excelled further by dedicated, gifted, generous and skilled individuals like Dr. Troutman," said A. John Kanellopoulos, MD, president of ISRS. "I share on behalf of all of us gratitude for his lifetime contributions, and condolences during this difficult time to his family on the passing of a great man and physician."
“Richard Troutman was a true giant in the field of anterior segment surgery for generations of ophthalmologists,” said Richard L. Abbott, MD, Secretary for Global Alliances and Past President, AAO. “His numerous contributions have significantly enhanced the surgical outcomes of patients around the world.”
Richard C. Troutman, MD, DSC
A Career of Innovation
An important innovator throughout his career and pioneer in microsurgery of the eye, Dr. Troutman was among the first ophthalmologists worldwide and the first in the United States to use a variable-step magnification dissecting microscope for ophthalmic microsurgery in 1954.
In 1962, he introduced the first remotely controlled, motorized zoom magnification microscope, which made it possible to vary the magnification over the course of a single procedure. When he demonstrated it at an American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in 1965, interest in ophthalmic microsurgery soared.
From 1967 to 1989, he developed the first motorized, ceiling mounted, zoom ophthalmic surgical microscope with remotely controlled focusing and centering, planetary tilting and illumination and a surgical keratometer. Contemporary surgical microscopes that incorporate his concepts continue to be employed not only for ophthalmic and refractive microsurgery but also have been adopted and modified for microsurgery by many other surgical specialties.
In 1976, Dr. Troutman and his wife Dr. Suzanne Véronneau-Troutman, an internationally recognized specialist in ocular motility and strabismus microsurgery, founded the Microsurgical Research Foundation (MRF), a non-profit public foundation that supports research and fellowships in refractive and corneal surgery.
Dr. Troutman was also internationally recognized as one of the originators of corneal transplant surgery. His comprehension of the delicate issues involved in the quality and timely delivery of corneal tissue led to his interest in and advocacy of eye banks and eye banking. He was appointed chair of the Academy’s Eye Bank Committee and served as a member of several medical advisory boards.
Three of ISRS's co-founders, Drs. Jose Barraquer, Casimir Swinger and Troutman
The Creation of ISRS
In the mid-1950s, Dr. Troutman met with Dr. Joaquín Barraquer of the Instituto Barraquer in Barcelona. The two surgeons had independently explored the utility of dissecting microscopes for anterior segment surgical applications and collaborated on the development of ophthalmic microsurgery instrumentation and techniques.
These efforts eventually led to the formation of the International Ophthalmic Microsurgery Study Group (IOMSG), which met for the first time in 1966 in Tübingen, Germany. In this brave new world of microsurgery, IOMSG organizers sought to create a forum that would provide inventive ophthalmologists with opportunities to exchange their experiences and ideas.
A decade later, Dr. Troutman would suggest this format for the creation of the International Society of Refractive Keratoplasty Study Group (ISRKSG), predecessor to the International Society of Refractive Keratoplasty (ISRK) and today’s ISRS.
When founding ISRK in 1979 with Drs. Jose Barraquer, Casimir Swinger and Miles Friedlander, Dr. Troutman wished to emphasize “international” in the new society’s name to “recognize and encourage the international contributions that had given birth to refractive keratoplasty.”
Dr. Troutman served as the society’s president from 1982-84. During his tenure, he convinced Dr. Bruce Spivey, the Academy’s executive vice president at the time, that ISRK should represent the subspecialty at an annual meeting session. In 1983, the Academy’s Program Committee awarded ISRK with time for a session, making it the first international society in the history of the Academy to have such a distinction.
Dr. Troutman’s legacy in ISRS lives on in other ways. In the book 1977-2007: Commemorating the ISRS/AAO and Global Refractive Surgery, Dr. Troutman wrote:
“Upon my retirement, my close relationships with the many talented young ophthalmologists who have carried refractive surgery and the ISRS/AAO forward to its present prominence prompted me to establish a perpetual annual prize that recognizes the talented next generation in their most productive years.”
Every year, the Troutmans’ Microsurgical Research Foundation funds the $5,000 annual Troutman Prize to the author (age 45 and under) of the best original article of the previous year in the Journal of Refractive Surgery.
Drs. Richard A. Villaseñor and Troutman
A Worldwide Legacy
Dr. Troutman authored or co-authored nine books and more than 150 articles and book chapters in scientific publications, many of which detail his innovative microsurgical techniques. In 2000, Dr. Troutman received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology “for many years of distinguished service to the Society.” He was one of the first 7 ophthalmologists to receive this award from the AAO.
ISRS President Dr. Kanellopoulos said wherever he trained or practice in New York, as a resident, fellow, or director of residency training at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, Dr. Troutman's presence and legacy was lasting.
“I had the opportunity as a surgeon myself at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, several years following him, to experience the awe that surgeons and nursing staff alike expressed for him there as well,” he said.
In 2002, the Richard C. Troutman Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Microsurgery was endowed at SUNY Downstate Medical Center with a $1 million gift from the MRF.
According to his bio on the website of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he served as Professor and Head of the Division of Ophthalmology from 1955 to 1983, Dr. Troutman humbly retired from clinical practice in 1990 “without fanfare.”
“Beyond Dr. Troutman's successes as a teacher, researcher, scientist and writer, he was a gifted clinician and dedicated healer,” the bio reads. “He took a personal interest in his patients and had a deep understanding and respect for their individual needs. His contributions continue to help restore and safeguard the eyesight of millions of patients worldwide.”
“His contributions to ophthalmic innovation and education epitomize the vision and mission of the ISRS,” said ISRS Past President Ronald R. Krueger, MD. “He will be missed by myself and all in the ISRS leadership.”