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John Hetherington, Jr., MD

John Hetherington, Jr., MD

Co-Founder, Glaucoma Research Foundation
(1930-2020) Clinical Professor Emeritus University of California, San Francisco

Dr. John “Jack” Hetherington, Jr. Jack passed away on December 31, 2020 at age 90. Dr. Hetherington was Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California at San Francisco and a past president of the International Glaucoma Society. He was one of the founding physicians of the Glaucoma Research Foundation and served on the GRF Board from 1978 to 2016.

In 2008, Dr. Hetherington was awarded the GRF Visionary Award for exemplary leadership in science and research. He collaborated with The Washington Advisory Group in the organization of its Drabkin Symposiums and served for many years on the GRF Research Committee. He was in private practice at the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco, and in Marin.

Dr. Hetherington influenced patient care and research in glaucoma for over 50 years. Widely regarded for his creative approach to treating disease — or ‘dis-ease’ as he called it — Dr. Hetherington had a distinguished academic career in addition to his clinical practice.

His research accomplishments are extensive and impressive. He was an early investigator into the childhood glaucomas, co-investigator on the 20-year Collaborative Glaucoma Detection Study, one of the first to evaluate automated perimeters, narrow-angle glaucoma, low-tension glaucoma, and ICE syndrome, as well as teach a systematic approach to the differential diagnosis of adult glaucomas.

Dr. Hetherington has studied numerous drugs and delivery systems in their experimental stage, shaping the way glaucoma is treated today. Likewise, his research linking early visual field loss and nerve fiber bundle (optic nerve), optic vessel, and optic disc defects are foundations from which diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma is still viewed. He also studied the effects of anesthesia on the intraocular pressure (IOP) in infants and has examined alternative healing practices effects on IOP. He is coauthor of the 4th & 5th editions of Becker-Shaffer’s Diagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas and over 50 other academic publications. Dr. Hetherington lectured extensively on glaucoma throughout the world.

Born in New Jersey, he earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia and completed his ophthalmic training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He completed his glaucoma fellowship at UCSF in 1962 under glaucoma pioneer Dr. Robert N. Shaffer, whose private practice he joined in 1966.

Dr. Hetherington served in the Navy from 1954 to 1956. He was an avid traveler, cyclist, and sailing and rowing enthusiast.

In 1978, Drs. Robert N. Shaffer, H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., and Jack Hetherington founded the Glaucoma Research Foundation, which is now America’s oldest and most experienced national institution dedicated solely to curing glaucoma and restoring vision through innovative research.

Glaucoma Research Foundation will always be grateful for Jack’s leadership, support and friendship.