Houston Ophthalmological Society

History of the Society

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History of the Houston Ophthalmological Society

The Houston Ophthalmological Society was formed in 1957 as a result of the division of the former Houston Ophthalmological and Otolaryngological Society. This decision to split was made twenty-one years before the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology made a similar decision.

Dr. Thomas J. Vanzant represented the leadership of the group at that time and following incorporation of the Houston Ophthalmological Society in 1958 he served as its initial president. The second president was a combined ear, nose and throat physician by the name of Dr. William Snow. He represented the last of the primarily otolaryngological physicians to assume the presidency of the organization we now know.

In 1960, the Society began regular monthly meetings in a somewhat informal manner, and this continued until 1965, under the presidency of Dr. George R. Kolodny and secretary Dr. Whitney G. Sampson, the society format changed essentially to what it is today - that is, a monthly meeting combining a business and scientific session.

In 1966 and 1967, under the leadership of Dr. Milton Boniuk, the series of Everett L. Goar Lectures was established. The first four of these were given with Dr. Goar in attendance, the last of these particularly memorable in that one of Dr. Goar's oldest and dearest friends, Dr. Paul A. Chandler from Boston, gave the lecture on the Management of Glaucoma.

Beginning in 1971, the lectures changed to the Goar Memorial Lecture, following Dr. Goar's death. It has become one of the more significant named lectures within ophthalmological circles. These have included most of the major personalities in modern American ophthalmology.

The Houston Ophthalmological Society has become a regional activity that draws to its meeting representatives from as far away as Galveston, Texas City and Columbus, Texas. Its membership is composed mainly of board-certified ophthalmologists.

The Society itself is non-political and has been almost exclusively scientific-socio-cultural in its activities. A number of years ago, a heated debate was taken on whether or not the Society should develop a more politically oriented posture, and it was determined that it should, in fact, remain scientific and stay out of the political areas.

The Executive Committee of the Society, which represents the immediate past president, the present president, the president-elect, the secretary-treasurer, the three credentials committee persons, and the parliamentarian. The Society may issue statements in the name of the Society, but expends no funds and employs no lobbyists or staff to represent it in the political arenas. Rather, these activities have been left to the Texas Ophthalmological Association, which from time to time has more than amply been represented by members of the Houston Ophthalmological Society leadership body.

The road of the Houston Ophthalmological Society has not always been smooth. The Society was sued in 1972 for some nine million dollars by the Harris County Optometry Society over a position that the Society took relating to optometry's testing conditions to predict dyslexia. Following the settlement of this suit in 1974, the Interprofessional Committee of Ophthalmology and Optometry was formed, and remained the major continuing area of communication between the two societies for several years.

Today, the Houston Ophthalmological Society is a model for similar societies throughout the United States. The Society has almost 200 members and continues to grow. The opportunity to exchange thoughts with our colleagues on a monthly basis provides the forum that each member enjoys and looks forward to as an important part of their ophthalmologic life.

Houston Ophthalmological Society