Our History

A Brief History of the American Glaucoma Society

The American Glaucoma Society was founded in 1986 with the stated purpose to "maintain and improve the quality of patient care primarily through improvement, exchange and dissemination of information and scientific knowledge pertinent to glaucoma and related diseases."

Drs. Douglas Anderson and Jonathan Herschler had organized the very successful Annual North American Glaucomatologists' Learning Ensemble (ANGLE) in the 1970s to provide in-depth focus on glaucoma research topics of mutual interest. Later, insightful members of the glaucoma community felt that an additional forum for both clinical and scientific interchange among glaucoma specialists was needed.

In May 1984, Drs. Max Forbes and Bruce Shields began to discuss the concept of an American Glaucoma Society. Drs. George Spaeth and Richard Simmons subsequently were persuaded to join in formalizing this concept and help organize the American Glaucoma Society. Nine other leading members of the glaucoma community also were recruited to participate in this endeavor. An initial meeting of the group took place in Atlanta on Nov. 11, 1984, during which everyone's full agreement and cooperation was established.

Dr. Simmons prepared a Constitution and Bylaws for the American Glaucoma Society, which was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Aug. 30, 1985. The 13 founding members subsequently approved the Constitution and Bylaws in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 29, 1985. The first elected officers included George L. Spaeth, president; Richard J. Simmons, vice president; Harry A. Quigley, secretary; and John Hetherington Jr., treasurer. The new executive committee met in the spring of 1986, at which time a list of invitations to 69 charter members was compiled. In 1986, 82 individuals became charter members of the newly formed Society.

Dr. Charles D. Phelps, one of the founding members and former chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, died in September 1985. In honor and memory of Dr. Phelps, the first meeting of the American Glaucoma Society was held in Iowa City, Iowa, in June 1987. Dr. M. Bruce Shields served as chair of the Program Committee for the Society’s inaugural meeting as well as the next four, and Dr. Stephen Drance delivered the first American Glaucoma Society Lecture. A Washington Hawthorne tree was planted in Dr. Phelps’ memory and still stands on the University of Iowa Medical Center campus, just outside of the office of the chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

In Iowa City, Dr. Spaeth quoted Sir Winston Churchill by stating that, "We are at the beginning of the beginning.” Thirty-two years and 27 meetings later, the American Glaucoma Society has grown to include over 1,600 members and has become one of ophthalmology’s premier and most influential subspecialty societies.

Envisioned Future

AGS engages all professionals involved in glaucoma care through programs, education, research, and knowledge sharing.

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Historic AGS Members

George L. Spaeth, MD
Richard J. Simmons, MD
M. Bruce Shields, MD
Max Forbes, MD
Douglas R. Anderson, MD
David G. Campbell, MD
John Hetherington, Jr., MD
H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., MD*
Allan E. Kolker, MD*
William E. Layden, MD
Charles D. Phelps, MD*
Irvin P. Pollack, MD*
Harry A. Quigley, MD


Robert C. Allen, MD*
Jorge A. Alvarado, MD*
Mansour F. Armaly, MD*
Frank S. Ashburn Jr., MD
George S. Baerveldt, MD
Bernard Becker, MD*
Hugh Beckman, MD
C. Davis Belcher III, MD*
A. Robert Bellows, MD*
Richard F. Brubaker, MD*
Paul A. Chandler, MD*
John S. Cohen, MD
Marshall N. Cyrlin, MD
Gordon R. Douglas, MD, FRCSC
Stephen M. Drance, MD
David K. Dueker, MD
David L. Epstein, MD*
Douglas E. Gaasterland, MD
Joseph S. Haas, MD
Thomas S. Harbin Jr., MD
Sohan S. Hayreh, MD, DSC
Jonathan Herschler, MD
Elizabeth A. Hodapp, MD
B. Thomas Hutchinson, MD*
Murray A. Johnstone, MD
Frederick M. Kapetansky, MD
Michael A. Kass, MD
Paul L. Kaufman, MD
Edwin U. Keates, MD*
Theodore Krupin, MD*
Carl Kupfer, MD*
Raymond P. Leblanc, MD
Pei-fei Lee, MD*
Ralph Z. Levene, MD*
Paul R. Lichter, MD
Alan I. Mandell, MD*
Wayne F. March, MD*
A. Edward Maumenee, MD*
Samuel D. McPherson Jr., MD*
David W. Meltzer, MD
Donald S. Minckler, MD
Donald J. Morin, MD*
Robert A. Moses, MD*
Paul F. Palmberg, MD, PhD
Richard K. Parrish II, MD
Jonathan E. Pederson, MD*
Edward S. Perkins, MD*
Steven M. Podos, MD*
Ronald L. Radius, MD*
Kenneth T. Richardson Jr., MD
Thomas M. Richardson, MD
Robert Ritch, MD
Alan L. Robin, MD
Harold G. Scheie, MD*
Bernard Schwartz, MD*
Arthur L. Schwartz, MD
Marvin L. Sears, MD
Robert N. Shaffer, MD*
Jess A. Smith, MD*
Robert L. Stamper, MD
H. Saul Sugar, MD*
John V. Thomas, MD*
E. Michael Van Buskirk, MD
Paul A. Weber, MD
Robert N. Weinreb, MD
Elliot B. Werner, MD
Jacob T. Wilensky, MD
Michael E. Yablonksi, MD, PhD*
Thom J. Zimmerman, MD, PhD*