Tracing our origin back to 1939, the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco
has the largest number of glaucoma specialists in one location on the
West Coast. We’re proud of the team of Doctors we’ve assembled.
Dr. John Hetherington has influenced patient care and research in glaucoma for over 50 years.
Widely regarded for his creative approach to treating disease - or “dis-ease” as he calls it - Dr.
Hetherington had a distinguished academic career in addition to his clinical practice.
His research accomplishments are extensive and impressive. He was an early investigator into
the childhood glaucomas, coinvestigator on the 20-year Collaborative Glaucoma Detection
Study, one of the first to evaluate automated perimeters, narrow-angle glaucoma, low-tension
glaucoma, and ICE syndrome, as well as teach a systematic approach to the differential diagnosis
of adult glaucomas. Dr. Hetherington has studied numerous drugs and delivery systems in their
experimental stage, shaping the way glaucoma is treated today. Likewise, his research linking
early visual field loss and nerve fiber bundle (optic nerve), optic vessel, and optic disc defects are
foundations from which diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma is still viewed. He also has studied
the effects of anesthesia on the intraocular pressure (IOP) in infants, and has examined
alternative healing practices effects on IOP. He is coauthor of the 4 th & 5 th editions of Becker-
Shaffer’s Diagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas and over 50 other academic publications. Dr.
Hetherington has lectured extensively on glaucoma throughout the world.
Born in New Jersey, he earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia
and completed his ophthalmic training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He
completed his glaucoma fellowship at UCSF in 1962 under glaucoma pioneer Dr. Robert N. Shaffer,
whose private practice he joined in 1966. Dr. Hetherington is a clinical professor emeritus at UCSF.
Dr. Hetherington’s honors are many. He is past President and Executive Secretary of the
Glaucoma Society of the International Congress and honorary member of the International
Congress of Ophthalmology, cofounder of the International Perimetric Society, Executive
Committee member of the National Association for the Prevention of Blindness, an American
Academy of Ophthalmology Honor Award recipient, and founding Treasurer of the American
Glaucoma Society (AGS), from which he received its highest honor, the AGS President’s
Award. He is also a founding member of the Pan-American Glaucoma Society, founding Board
member of the Glaucoma Research Foundation, a former American Medical Association Drug
Evaluation Advisory Council member, and Past President of the Frederick C. Cordes Eye
Society at UCSF. Dr. Hetherington was the director of the glaucoma section of the Stanford
Basic Science Course for many years and the Program Chair of the Washington Advisory Group,
which is charged with compiling and reviewing all of the research in ophthalmology for the
purpose of advising universities and politicians on planning the future of policy and research in
Dr. Hetherington served in the Navy from 1954 to 1956. He has been an avid traveler, cyclist,
and sailing and rowing enthusiast.