Memorial held for Dr Jack J Kanski

Video tributes from Kuwait to Sri Lanka were played at a service remembering the late ophthalmologist and bestselling author

Jack Kanski memorial picture

The late author and ophthalmologist, Dr Jacek ‘Jack’ Kanski, has been remembered during a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians (16 May, London).

Dr Kanski was born in Warsaw, Poland on 5 August 1939 and died at home in Gerrards Cross from pancreatic cancer on 5 January 2019.

He was the author of the best-selling textbook, Clinical Ophthalmology – A Systematic Approach.  

A programme prepared for the memorial described how Dr Kanski settled in West London with his parents in 1946.

After qualifying from the London Hospital Medical College in 1963, he continued his training at several hospitals in the capital before being appointed as a consultant surgeon at King Edward VII Hospital’s Prince Charles Eye Unit in Windsor.

Dr Kanski had a particular clinical interest in retinal detachment and started using automated vitrectomy devices for posterior segment conditions in the 1970s.

He also worked on childhood uveitis in juvenile idiopathic arthropathy at the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow alongside rheumatologist, Barbara Ansell. 

“Patients came to them from all over the UK and benefitted from his revolutionary management of inflammatory eye disease,” the programme highlighted.

Dr Kanski worked to establish a successful teaching and training programme in Windsor for aspiring ophthalmologists.

Dr Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology textbook, first published in 1984, became the “best selling ophthalmological textbook ever,” the programme noted.

“It was continually updated through many editions…In all, he published over 30 books, covering most aspects of ophthalmology.”

An interest in history flourished following Dr Kanski’s retirement from ophthalmology.

During the last three years of Dr Kanski’s life, he published 10 books in his Concise Outline of History series.

A life of “many remarkable strands”

President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Michael Burdon and optometrist Vivian Bush were among those who spoke at the memorial.

Mr Bush told OT that Dr Kanski was more than a bestselling text book author.

“The fabric of his life was woven together by many remarkable strands,” he said.

“Friends, colleagues and family gathered at the Royal College of Physicians to celebrate the man whose name, just like Gray’s and anatomy, has entered the language,” Mr Bush shared.

He added that Dr Kanski was described by colleagues from his early years at Moorfields as the most organised person they had met.

He was “punctual, never known to waste a minute and a meticulous keeper of lists.”

“Throughout a long career he helped countless fellow clinicians up the career ladder,” Mr Bush observed.

The ophthalmologist displayed a lack of pomp and was generous with his time, helping those less fortunate.

Video tributes from Kuwait to Sri Lanka were played at the memorial, alongside images of young doctors from across Europe clutching their copy of Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology.

Mr Bush highlighted that the textbook assisted optometrists in informing and advising hospital eye departments and ophthalmologists about their patients.

“Dr Kanski’s contribution to our world of primary eye care is a lasting and precious legacy,” he concluded.

Image credit: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists