In Memoriam: Dr. John Morgan

 

Dr. John (“Jack”) Morgan passed away on July 12th in Kingston, Ontario at the age of 86. He was on the faculty at Queen’s University, Department of Medicine and Chief of Ophthalmology at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston. Optik asked industry veteran and colleague, Silvano (Syl) Ghirardi, retired Industry executive and optician, to reflect upon Jack’s impact on the industry. Below is his tribute.


By Silvano (Syl) Ghirardi

Along the way there have been people that have influenced the global ophthalmic industry, specifically, the contact lens industry. Many have been Canadians and I have been fortunate to know most of them over the years. One of the most influential ophthalmologists has been Dr. John (Jack) Morgan, who I was fortunate to meet and know under some interesting circumstances.

I met Dr. Morgan in 1978 when I was appointed Head of Professional Services for Bausch and Lomb Soflens division. In the early days of contact lenses, there were only a handful of opticians in Ontario that were legally allowed to fit contact lenses and the certification allowing contact lens fitting by an optician was under the authority of ophthalmologists. This meant that the selection, training and certification were by the authority of the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists. As I was an Optician and employed by Bausch & Lomb, I was not allowed to fit contact lenses and would not be eligible for certification. This presented a problem as I was training ODs and MDs in fitting contact lenses. When Dr. Morgan heard of this he personally wrote a letter to the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists and requested that I be allowed to take the certification and that he would personally train me to meet the curriculum. So, I spent time, over 2 summers at Hotel Dieu hospital in Dr. Morgan’s clinic. My first 15 minutes when arriving at the hospital, I was directed, basically, “get in there” to assist the Resident in the OR as there were plenty of penitentiary patients that Monday morning that had “fallen in the shower” and caused trauma to their eyes.

He was a tough teacher and you had to know your stuff or he would make you repeat. The residents appreciated him as he gave them more exposure and opportunity than would be normal. Under the guidance of Dr. Morgan, I was prepared and received my certification.

For eight years we attended the Contact Lens Association on Ophthalmologist training sessions in Las Vegas where we helped train the MD residents in contact lens fitting. In the early days of contact lenses, it was the industry that was providing the new technology training and Dr. Morgan was at the forefront of helping residents.

Most people do not realize that Dr. Morgan was the person who named the Boston RGP lens. When Dr. Perry Rosenthal, a Canadian who had served in the Canadian armed forces with Dr. Morgan, formulated the gas permeable contact lens, he asked Dr. Morgan to conduct clinical trials in Canada ahead of the US FDA trials. Dr. Morgan informed Dr. Rosenthal that this new material was performing well and that he should market the product. Dr. Morgan mentioned that the material should be called the Boston Lens as that was the name that it was know by in the trials.

Dr. Morgan coined the “Morgan dots” when he found that sub epithelial white dots were evident as an adverse response in contact lens patients’ corneas, a symptom of long-time contact lens wearing.

We had a great relationship, and I learned to appreciate his love of salmon fishing, which we did together numerous times, and the outdoors. He was a pioneer in contact lenses and a “tough old bird,” but had a big heart. He will be missed.

 

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