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$1M gift supports online laser eye surgery education

SAN FRANCISCO – Laser vision correction pioneer Dr. Charles R. Munnerlyn and his wife have donated $1 million to advance Web-based laser surgery education for ophthalmologists, the American Academy of Ophthalmology announced recently.

The academy said the gift – one of the largest individual donations in its history – will establish the Dr. Charles R. and Judith G. Munnerlyn Laser Surgery Education Center and an endowment fund to maintain it. The center will be part of the academy’s Ophthalmic News and Education Network and is expected to launch in 2013.

The goal of the online center is to provide ophthalmologists with a central location for the most current and accurate information on advances in laser eye surgery, the academy said. It will serve as a virtual skills transfer center for ophthalmologists and will focus on providing educational resources in basic science principles, advances in laser surgery technology, systems-based patient safety programs, and pre- and post-operative care and management.

Charles R. Munnerlyn

Dr. Munnerlyn is considered one of the founding fathers of laser vision correction. He is also recognized as a pioneer in translating laser science into ophthalmic applications.

Munnerlyn received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Texas A&M in 1962 and a doctorate in optical engineering from the University of Rochester in 1969. He holds more than 30 US patents in the field of optics.

He designed and built the first excimer laser system for vision correction and introduced the mathematical formula now known as the Munnerlyn Formula. Used by ophthalmologists worldwide, it dictates the amount of corneal tissue to be removed by the laser to correct vision disorders such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Munnerlyn’s contributions also include early work in the development of photocoagulation and pulse YAG laser systems for vision correction.

Munnerlyn currently serves on the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Advisory Board and The Optical Society (OSA) board. He was the founder and CEO of VISX Inc. (now Abbott Medical Optics).

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