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 nearly 50 years, and is still going strong. Widely regarded for his creative approach to treating disease - or dis-ease as he calls it - Dr. Hetherington has 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 more recently has examined alternative healing practices effects on IOP. He is coauthor of the 4th & 5th 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 has been a clinical professor at UCSF since 1979.

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 recently 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, an 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 the U.S.

Dr. Hetherington served in the Navy from 1954 to 1956. He is an avid traveler, cyclist, and sailing and rowing enthusiast.

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