Dr. Robert Ritch holds the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Chair; is a Professor of Ophthalmology; Surgeon Director & Chief of Glaucoma Services Emeritus; and Director of International Ophthalmic Education and Director of Glaucoma Research at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City. He has devoted his career to broadening our understanding of the underlying etiologies and mechanisms of glaucoma and innovation in its medical, laser, and surgical treatment. When still a fellow in 1978, he performed the first laser iridotomy in New York and initiated the first course on laser treatment of glaucoma at the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Ritch developed argon laser peripheral iridoplasty for the treatment of angle-closure more complicated than pupillary block, which was instrumental in dealing with angle closure in East Asia, and taught on the diagnosis and treatment of angle-closure around the world. His other major interests throughout his career have been pigment dispersion syndrome, exfoliation syndrome, and normal-tension glaucoma, to which he has made seminal contributions.
A Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American College of Surgeons, the International College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the New York Academy of Medicine, and is a member of more than 45 scientific and medical societies. Dr. Ritch has been President of the Ophthalmic Laser Surgical Society, the New York Glaucoma Society, the Section on Ophthalmology of the New York Academy of Medicine, and the New York Society for Clinical Ophthalmology. He serves on numerous medical and scientific advisory and editorial boards and is a member of the Glaucoma Research Society, the Steering Committee of the World Glaucoma Association, and the Board of Directors of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology.
In 1985, he founded the Glaucoma Foundation and has served as Secretary, Medical Director, and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board. In 1994, he initiated the annual Optic Nerve Rescue and Regeneration Think Tank, which has attracted numerous successful researchers from other fields into glaucoma research. He also co-founded the New York Glaucoma Research Institute, a not-for-profit foundation to sponsor clinical research in glaucoma, the alt.support.glaucoma Internet newsgroup, the New York Glaucoma Support and Education Group, and the World Glaucoma Patient Association.
Dr. Ritch was one of the three organizers of the first annual World Glaucoma Day in 2008. He was a co-founder of the Ophthalmic Laser Surgical Society, the New York Glaucoma Society, and the Lindberg Society, an international organization dedicated to the eradication of exfoliation syndrome; the ARVO Host-a-Research Program, the ARVO U.S.-Russia Ophthalmology Task Force, the Von Graefe Society, an international organization dedicated to the study of risk factors for glaucoma other than intraocular pressure.
He has trained over 150 clinical and research fellows, many of whom occupy academic positions worldwide. The international training program that he established at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai has hosted over 100 International Council of Ophthalmology fellows and more than 140 observers from over 40 countries.
Dr. Ritch has co-authored or edited more than ten textbooks and over 1750 medical and scientific papers, book chapters, articles, and abstracts. He has presented nearly 900 lectures worldwide, including 52 named lectures. Moreover, he has organized many symposia and conferences both in the United States and abroad and helped to establish residency and teaching programs. Dr. Ritch has also made fundamental contributions to the modernization of ophthalmology in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and other countries in Asia, as well as Latin America. There are Asian, Brazilian, and International Ritch Fellows Societies.
He has served as Convener for the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and the World Ophthalmology Congress several times. At the June 2018 World Ophthalmology Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the International Council of Ophthalmology, which Dr. Ritch served as a Member of the Board of Trustees, organized a special symposium, “Robert Ritch Forum on Medicine of the Future,” the first of a series of symposia on cutting-edge technology.