David Paton (ophthalmologist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
David Paton
Born (1930-08-16) August 16, 1930 (age 88)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Occupation Ophthalmologist, retired writer, memoirist
Genre Nonfiction

David Paton (born August 16, 1930) is a retired ophthalmologist best known as founder in 1970 of Project Orbis[1] (now named Orbis International, Inc.) and thereafter as its first Medical Director helping to develop (1970–1982) and then deploy its teaching aircraft for ophthalmologists worldwide, especially in the developing nations. The initial aircraft was a donated DC-8 refurbished to contain an operating room, a teaching classroom and the necessary ancillary components for sharing “live” both surgical and medical techniques with colleagues abroad who were eager to learn by means of hands-on instruction. The instruction was provided by volunteer American and other skilled medical teachers from an eventually large number of countries. In 1988, the DC-8 was replaced by a larger and more complete teaching aircraft complex, housed in a formerly commercial DC-10. Thus far 88 countries have been visited, some repeatedly. By 2012, still another update of the Orbis aircraft will be prepared to further fulfill the various purposes of teaching optimal eye care internationally, principally by means of doctor-to-doctor techniques. Paton resigned from Orbis in 1987 and focused on other aspects of academic ophthalmology, but in 2011 he returned in a voluntary capacity to assist in fund raising for a new annual appointment, the David Paton Orbis Fellowship in Global Ophthalmology

Paton was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in August 1930,[2] and was to spend much of his professional life trying to live up to the achievements of his closest family members. He is the son of a prominent ophthalmologist, Richard Townley Paton, founder in 1946 of the world’s first eye bank[3] needed to permit the growth of corneal transplant surgery in the United States and now in most countries abroad. R.T. Paton’s father, Stewart Paton MD was a neurologist and psychiatrist[4] – one of the first of his kind for such specialization. He was an institution-based academic who inspired and encouraged the construction of psychiatric departments, hospitals and clinics. He wrote six books and many medical and zoological research papers that were published in the United States and Europe.

His maternal grandfather, Frederic Hill Meserve[5] was a self-made businessman, and the first great collector of photographs of Abraham Lincoln, Civil War leaders, and other notable persons of the nineteenth century. Meserve was highly regarded as a Lincoln photographic scholar for which he received, among other recognitions, an honorary degree and a Presidential medal. He collaborated with his friend Carl Sandburg in The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln (1944), having over the course of his long career more the doubled the known photographic images of Abraham Lincoln and organized them with an authoritative numbering system. (An important portion of his collection is preserved today by the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation in Westchester County, New York—see mkfound.org.)

Paton is a graduate of Princeton University and The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he later served as a member of the faculty of the Wilmer Eye Institute. He is past Chairman of The American Board of Ophthalmology, past First Vice-President of The American Academy of Ophthalmology, and former Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine.

In 2011 Paton self-published his memoir, Second Sight: Views from An Eye Doctor's Odyssey. The book chronicles the ophthalmologist's unique career in eye care–from the first struggles with dyslexia at boarding school and Princeton to performing eye surgery, and to encountering many challenges in his eclectic life as an academic physician driven by an irresistible wanderlust that brought him to the world’s indigent blind as well as to some of its most illustrious leaders. His goal is substantiated by the stories of his odyssey: seeking to achieve satisfaction by sparing no effort to earn it on his own.

Education and work[edit]


  • Markle Scholar, Academic Medicine, 1967–72
  • American College of Surgeons, Fellow, 1965–
  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dean, Student Admissions, 1967–70
  • American Board of Ophthalmology, Chairman 1981-81
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology, Secretary, Continuing Education, 1977–82
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology, First Vice President, 1982
  • Project ORBIS, Founder, Medical Director, 1968–87
  • As teacher, surgeon and/or medical administrator: a cumulative four years in developing countries.
  • Honorary member or honored guest of ten South American medical societies
  • Over time, numerous international and domestic board memberships of domestic and international NGOs

DSc honorary degrees[edit]

Other honors[edit]

  • Legion of Honor, France, Chevalier, 1988
  • Presidential Citizens Medal, US, 1987
  • Princeton Class of ’52, Distinguished Classmate Award, 1992
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award, 2005


  1. ^ History. ORBIS. Retrieved on 2012-08-11.
  2. ^ David Paton M.D. – One World Sight Project. Owsp.org. Retrieved on 2012-08-11.
  3. ^ Bronson, Nathaniel R (1984). "RICHARD TOWNLEY PATON, md". Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 82: 19–20. PMC 1298649.
  4. ^ Rogers, FB (May 1965). "STEWART PATON (1865–1942): MENTAL HYGIENIST". Am J Public Health Nations Health. 55 (5): 654–6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.55.5.654. PMC 1256292. PMID 14287833.
  5. ^ Meserve, Frederick Hill, 1865–1962, collector. Historical portraits: Guide. Oasis.lib.harvard.edu. Retrieved on 2012-08-11.

External links[edit]