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Stephen James Hamilton Miller

Born 1915
Died 1996

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English ophthalmologist, 1915-1996.

Biography of Stephen James Hamilton Miller

Stephen Miller was amongst the last of the general ophthalmologists and one of the first of the specialists - his area of expertise being glaucoma. Appointed a house surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, Hull, in 1937, he was introduced to ophthalmology, and served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War as an ophthalmic specialist.

After the war he was encouraged by his fellow Scotsman Sir Stewart Duke Elder (1898-1978), the country's foremost ophthalmologist, to come south. Within a few years of training at Moorfields Eye Hospital he was on the consultant staff of three major hospitals - St George's Hospital, the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and Moorfields itself.

In the 1960s he was one of the first ophthalmologists in the country to see the potential of fluorescein angiography, a method of studying the retinal circulation by the injection of fluorescein dye. This innovation, pioneered in the United States, had previously been ignored by the ophthalmology establishment. Miller set up the first unit to conduct the technique at the National Hospital, Queen Square. This single act launched the career of some of the most distinguished ophthalmologists in the United Kingdom and led to the formation of a specialist department which has remained pre-eminent.
Another important factor in the development of fluorescein angiography was the use of private donations - in particular, his friend and patient Tommy Frost gave money. The Frost Foundation continues to be a major source of research and training grants for ophthalmology trainees.
In the last few years, Miller's enthusiasm, vision and integrity enabled him to persuade Guide Dogs for the Blind to become a benefactor for ophthalmic research programmes, and his personal friendship with King Hussein of Jordan led to the establishment of a Fellowship at St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem.

Miller derived much pleasure from being Master of the Oxford Ophthalmological Congress in 1969-70 and gave a superb lecture on glaucoma for which he was awarded the Doyne Medal of the Congress in 1972.
In addition he was Surgeon-Oculist to the Queen from 1974 to 1980, and was created Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1979.

For him to participate in so many activities Miller relied on a secure and happy home life. His wife supported him in his busy career and nursed him in his final illness, which he endured with great dignity and not a little rage. This difficult time was relieved by seeing one of his sons appointed to Moorfields Eye Hospital, continuing his interest in glaucoma, while another son was installed as a Queen’s Councel.

Miller remained attached to his native Scotland and he was an enthusiastic golfer and fisherman; he was also an excellent pianist and an exceptional bridge player. Although he did not paint himself, he had a beautiful collection of watercolours by Scottish artists.
Patrick J. Holmes Sellors

  • Patrick J Holmes Sellors
    Obituary: Sir Stephen Miller. The Independent, Wednesday, 1 May 1996.

We thank André Trombeta for information submitted.

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