Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. von Noorden moved with his family to Berlin in 1937. After WWII, he pursued his medical education at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, transitioned through London, and completed his Ophthalmology Residency at the University of Iowa and then a 2-year fellowship at the University of Tuebingen. He later joined the Faculty of the University of Iowa from where he was recruited to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in 1963. In 1972, he moved to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where his twenty-three years of dedication and service to the Department of Ophthalmology inspired generations of students. He served as Professor of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics, Chief of the Ophthalmology Service at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Houston; he is currently Distinguished Emeritus Professor.
Dr. von Noorden is a pioneer researcher in visual neurophysiology who transferred discoveries in strabismic and anisometropic amblyopia in primates into the clinical arena. Through his relentless efforts and inspiration, ophthalmologists worldwide have acquired new knowledge and understanding in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. Multilingual and very aware of the rich strabismus heritage in Europe and Asia, he broke the language barrier and played a major role in facilitating the free sharing of ideas, concepts and principles between the continents. This rapprochement between the different national, regional and continental strabismus schools of thought could not but benefit the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) and the International Strabismological Association (ISA). He trained 24 fellows, many of whom became heads of their own fellowship programs and leaders of our sub-specialty. He also inspired and mentored countless residents, medical students and researchers.
He served as President of AAPOS, ISA, the American Orthoptic Council (AOC) and the American Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). He was honored as the Jackson Lecturer (AAO), Bowman Lecturer (British Ophthalmological Society), Costenbader Lecturer (AAPOS), first Bielschowsky Lecturer (ISA), Proctor Lecturer (ARVO), and Ticho Lecturer (Israel Society of Ophthalmology), among others. He received the Franceschetti Prize and, in 1996, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of medicine and surgery from the University of Bologna. In 2015, he was inducted in the ASCRS Hall of Fame as “truly unique in his field and the ultimate triple threat: outstanding clinician, world-renowned teacher and author, and incredibly productive research scientist, highlighted by his path finding studies on the neuropathology of amblyopia.” He lectured worldwide, and published 310 scientific papers and authored 4 books, including his multi-edition book, Ocular Motility and Binocular Vision: Theory and Management of Strabismus that is heralded as a classic and cornerstone of ophthalmic education.
Gunter K. von Noorden distinguished himself as a world leader in strabismus, author of seminal work and admired educator and mentor.