Roger F. Steinert, director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and chair of ophthalmology
Dr. Roger Steinert, an international authority on corneal and refractive surgery, died June 6 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with glioblastoma. He was 66. Steinert, who came to UCI in 2004 and was founding director of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, remained professionally active during his illness and at the time of his death was the Irving H. Leopold Chair in Ophthalmology and a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering, as well as director of the institute. As a young ophthalmologist in the 1980s, Steinert became convinced that lasers then being developed to cut and reshape eye tissue could revolutionize vision surgery. However, nobody had systematically explored how to use them safely or advance their potential. Steinert made it his mission to unlock the power of those lasers. Over nearly four decades, he paved the way for their use in ophthalmology and pioneered new laser surgery techniques to strengthen eyesight and stave off blindness. His early work while on the faculty at Harvard Medical School helped lay the foundation for LASIK refractive surgery. Later, at UCI, he improved corneal transplantation by replacing the existing hand-held surgical blade with the IntraLase femtosecond laser.