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Harold Glendon Scheie


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American ophthalmologist, born 1909, Brookings County, South Dakota; died 1990.

Biography of Harold Glendon Scheie

Harold Glendon Scheie was born into a homesteading family in South Dakota, the son of Lars T. Scheie and Ella Mae Ware Scheie, and spent his early years living in a sod house on the Berthold Indian reservation. He was educated in the Warren, Minnesota, public school system, and in 1926 he graduated from Warren High School. He attended the University of Minnesota and received a B.S., 1931, graduating with honours in 1935, becoming M.D. in 1936. He completed his Internship, 1935-1937, and Residency, 1938-1940, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1940, he received a D.Sc., from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Scheie secured a position as Instructor and then Associate Professor of Ophthalmology in the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, 1940-1942.

During World War II, he served, with the other staff members of the Medical School, at the 31st Hospital Unit of the Army Medical Corps, located on the Ledo Road in the China, Burma, and India Theatre. Scheie treated many patients while serving in the Army; his most memorable patient, however, was Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma. Mountbatten had injured his eye in a jeep accident. Scheie's success in saving Mountbatten's eye resulted in a friendship that would last throughout their lives. Like his relationship with Mountbatten, Dr. Scheie's service in the Army would also continue well beyond the period of World War II. He belonged to many military organizations and remained in the US Army Reserve after discharge and had achieved the rank of brigade general when he retired in 1964.

After the war, Scheie returned to the Department of Ophthalmology in the Medical School, University of Pennsylvania. He remained connected with the University for the remainder of his professional life. He was assistant professor 1945-1949, Associate Professor, 1949-1953; Professor, 1953-1979; Department Chairman and the William F. Norris and George E. de Schweinitz Professor of Ophthalmology, 1960-1977, and Emeritus Professor, 1979-1983. In 1964, Dr. Scheie encouraged the University to merge with the Wills Eye Hospital. The University decided against his recommendation. As a result, Scheie began raising funds for an independently financed eye institute that would eventually become affiliated with Presbyterian Hospital. His fundraising efforts met with enormous success, and in 1972, the Scheie Eye Institute was dedicated. At this time the Department of Ophthalmology moved to the Scheie Eye Institute as a result of the University's affiliation with Presbyterian Hospital. From 1972 until 1977, Dr. Scheie served as the Founding Director of the Scheie Eye Institute. He retired from practice in 1983 devoting his time to fundraising for the Institute.

Remaining at the cutting edge of his profession, Scheie worked tirelessly at his research. Some of the topics covered include: Adie's syndrome, retinal detachment, glaucoma surgery, infantile glaucoma, ocular injuries, Hurler's disease, herpes, cataracts and cataract extraction, haemophilia and the eyes, Rubella Syndrome, thyroid, Scheie Syndrome, and myopia. Throughout his career, Dr. Scheie wrote over 200 articles, the standard textbook on ophthalmology, and delivered countless lectures and speeches. During the years 1947-1987 he saw thousands of patients in his private practice and developed a technique for cataract removal that became widely used, and ultimately named for Scheie.

Scheie travelled extensively, attending over 150 professional conferences, from Oklahoma City to China to Nairobi. He received numerous honours

His widow, Mary Ann Tallman Scheie, July 10, 1990, donated his papers to the University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center.

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