Contributed by Anne Hanneken, MD
Considered the father of Pneumatic Retinopexy, Paul Tornambe, MD, was a surgical innovator, pioneering new techniques and surgical instruments for the treatment of retinal detachment and macular holes. Always questioning the status quo, Dr. Tornambe was quick to realize that pneumatic retinopexy was a less invasive treatment for the surgical repair of retinal detachments and he promoted this technique throughout his career with the resolve and determination that defined him professionally, sharing his knowledge, support, and insights with colleagues across the globe. He later endorsed macular hole surgery without face down positioning to improve patient’s comfort after surgery with the same determination and commitment. His accomplished career spanned four decades and he was respected and admired by colleagues around the world who valued his clinical insights, creative ideas, and loyal friendship.
Paul was born in Queens, New York, to a close-knit and loving Italian family. His father, a physician, practiced out of the family home and instilled his love for medicine in his sons. Paul credited his father for teaching him the proverbial words of wisdom that he used throughout his life. Sayings such as “Put the patient’s welfare ahead of everything else” and “There’s no right way to do the wrong thing” were two of his favorite quotes which he attributed to his father’s sage advice.
At meetings and in his clinic, Paul always challenged the current dogma for patient care. He never shied away from a controversial subject, a trait which defined him professionally and engendered much respect. He never short-changed a colleaguewho needed his advice. There was neither a subject too complex nor an issue too small to bypass his attention.
Paul was a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Macula Society, the Retina Society, the American Ophthalmological Society, and many others. He founded the Meeting of the Masters, was an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of California San Diego and served as the President of the American Society of Retina Specialists (2003-2004). Paul received several Honor Awards from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (1992 & 2003) and the Crystal Apple Award from the American Society of Retina Specialists (2004). He was the author of dozens of manuscripts and book chapters, a member of many advisory boards, and the principal investigator of numerous medical and surgical clinical trials.