The doctors at the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco are teachers at the University of California,
San Francisco, Stanford University, California Pacific Medical Center, the American Academy
of Ophthalmology, and invited lectures at many universities around the world. They are pioneers
in the development of automated perimetry, laser treatment, surgical techniques, and new drugs
for glaucoma, as well as diagnosing and treating the myriad forms of glaucoma in both the young
and the aged. But more than anything, they are doctors whose focus is serving people, not just
At the heart of the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco is the memory of Dr. Robert N. Shaffer.
Dr. Shaffer was hand-picked by the head of the department of ophthalmology at UC San
Francisco (UCSF) to study glaucoma when both he and glaucoma were new to ophthalmology.
Dr. Shaffer learned about congenital (childhood) glaucoma from the expert at the time, Dr. Otto
Barkan. He then started a clinic at UCSF for the specialty in 1942. That year, Dr. Shaffer also
broadened his teaching emphasis by serving as a Diplomat (and later as Consultant and
Secretary-Treasurer) of the American Board of Ophthalmology. In 1961, he co-authored the
quintessential text on glaucoma, Diagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas, now in its 8th edition.
In 1941 Dr. Warren Horner asked Dr. Shaffer to join him in practice at 490 Post Street,
anticipating that he would be called to war and would need someone to keep his practice going
while he was away. Dr. Horner served in WWII from 1942-1945 and died in 1949, leaving Dr.
Shaffer with the 490 Post Street clinic. By that time, Dr. Shaffer had distinguished himself as
among the great early leaders in glaucoma, along with Dr. Bernard Becker (St. Louis) and Dr.
W. Morton Grant (Boston). Dr. Shaffer was highly respected as a great diagnostician and known
to ‘lead by example’. He had a strong belief that research should be useful and significant to
patient care. Dr. Shaffer was patient-oriented, a doctor known to be extremely ethical and
credible in every aspect of his practice and his life. These are the building blocks on which the
Glaucoma Center of San Francisco still stands and that has upheld it as the leading glaucoma
practice in California for 70 years.
As the clinic grew, so did Dr. Shaffer’s need to ask other respected ophthalmologists to join him.
Drs. William Ridgway and William van Herick began seeing patients at the 490 Post Street clinic
in the 1950s. Dr. Shaffer then decided to formalize the specialty training he was providing by
establishing a glaucoma fellowship. The Shaffer Glaucoma Fellowship, a 1-year advanced
training program for select ophthalmologists wishing to specialize in glaucoma, began with Dr.
John Hetherington in 1961 and has produced a long list of luminaries in the field. By 1966 Dr.
Shaffer was so impressed by Dr. Hetherington’s research and clinical skills that he asked Dr.
Hetherington to join him. Dr. Hetherington later became a clinical professor at UCSF as well as
holding a host of titles nationally and internationally in ophthalmology. In 1972, Shaffer and
Hetherington asked their current Fellow, Dr. H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., to join the practice. Dr.
Hoskins raised the level of excellence yet again. He held National Institutes of Health research
grants from 1976-1981; at the urging of patients, Shaffer, Hoskins, and Hetherington created the
Foundation for Glaucoma Research in 1978 (now known as the Glaucoma Research
Foundation); and from 1993-2009 he served as Executive Vice President of the American
Academy of Ophthalmology, the world’s largest organization for ophthalmologists. In 2009 the
Academy opened the H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., M.D. Center for Quality Eye Care as a quality of
care and health policy research center that promotes accessibility to and appropriateness of eye
In 1987 Hetherington and Hoskins asked Dr. Christopher Dickens, another Shaffer Fellow
alumnus, to join them. In 1989 Dr. Andrew Iwach completed his Shaffer Fellowship, and, a year
later, Drs. Hoskins and Hetherington invited him to join the practice. After 49 years, Dr. Shaffer
retired but continued to mentor the unique and accomplished group of physicians he had
Dr. Shaffer’s influence is extensive even today. The Glaucoma Research Foundation, with its
mission to find a cure for glaucoma through research and education, has grown to encompass a
multidisciplinary team of basic and clinical scientists at several universities in the United States,
working together to solve the underlying mysteries of this blinding disease. Drs. Hetherington
and Hoskins are founders of the American Glaucoma Society, which is a professional
organization for glaucomatologists to share their latest research findings and techniques.
Recognizing an unmet need in the general ophthalmology community, Dr. Iwach coordinates the
annual Glaucoma Symposium, bringing together the most influential clinicians of the day for a
comprehensive seminar geared toward the general ophthalmologist. This seminar debuted the
Shaffer-Hetherington- Hoskins named lecture and is attended by ophthalmologists from across
the U.S. and the world. In 2012 Dr. Iwach cofounded the Glaucoma 360 New Horizons Forum in
conjunction with the Symposium, bringing together key clinical, industry, financial, and FDA
leaders in a unique exchange on research innovation and advances in glaucoma treatment that
has since served as a template for other medical specialty collaborations. This catalyst meeting
brings together physician, industry, and government experts to accelerate the process of turning
new ideas into clinical practice that will directly benefit patients.
Since its humble beginnings at 490 Post Street, the group of physicians at the Glaucoma Center
of San Francisco not only trained today’s leaders in the practice and study of glaucoma, but have
themselves given well over 1000 lectures throughout the world and produced over 350 scientific
publications and textbooks on glaucoma.
In 2005 the 490 Post Street clinic that Drs. Horner and Shaffer once occupied closed and
reopened at 55 Stevenson Street as the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco. With Dr. Iwach as
Executive Director, this institute, dedicated to serving those with glaucoma, is the largest free-
standing glaucoma practice on the West Coast. Although Dr. Hoskins retired in 2016, Drs. Terri-
Diann Pickering, Sunita Radhakrishnan, and Shan Lin have brought in their own breadth of
education, experience, and research interests as the next generation of glaucoma specialists.
Among our doctors and staff, approximately 10 different languages are spoken, reflecting the
diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area as well. What has not changed is our philosophy of
treating the person and not just the disease.