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Biographical entry Hudson, James Ralph (1916 - 2003)

CBE 1976; MRCS 1939; FRCS 1949; MB BS London 1940; DOMS 1948; LRCP 1939; Hon MACO 1970.

15 February 1916
New Britain, Connecticut, USA
30 December 2003
Ophthalmic surgeon


James Hudson was an ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields in London. He was born on 15 February 1916 in New Britain, Connecticut, USA. His father, William Shand, was a mechanical engineer and farmer. His mother was Ethel Summerskill. He was educated in Massachusetts, at Winchester County Day School and then Belmont High School, before he went to England, where he attended the King’s School, Canterbury, and then Middlesex Hospital, where he was Edmund Davis exhibitioner. After qualifying, he joined the RAFVR, where he rose to the rank of Squadron Leader.

In 1947, he went to Moorfields as a clinical assistant, trained in ophthalmology, and was appointed consultant in 1956 to Moorfields and to Guy’s Hospital. He also held posts at the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers, the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, London, and ran a private practice in Wimpole Street. He retired in 1981.

He was a most competent general eye surgeon. An expert in surgical technique rather than an innovator, he devoted much of his time to the diagnosis and management of retinal detachment in an era when subspecialisation within ophthalmology was still new. In this field he made his reputation. For 25 years he presided over the retinal unit at the High Holborn branch of Moorfields, setting new standards by his unique and thorough methods of retinal examination and his meticulous records. His patients included the Duke of Windsor. He taught by example, and juniors soon learned that the soft cough at the end of a case presentation meant that something was not to his liking.

He wrote chapters in Matthew’s Recent advances in the surgery of trauma and contributed to Rob and Rodney Smith’s Operative surgery.

He was President of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom and the Faculty of Ophthalmologists, representing that faculty on the Council of the College. He was an examiner in ophthalmology to the Court of Examiners of the College. He was consultant adviser in ophthalmology to the DHSS and a civilian ophthalmic consultant to the RAF. His services were recognised by the award of the CBE in 1976.

Abroad he was a respected member of the Société Française d’Ophtalmologie and represented the United Kingdom on several European committees. He was a member of the International Council of Ophthalmology and helped found the Jules Gonin Club, an worldwide association of retinal experts.

He was interested in motoring, travel and cine-photography. He married Margaret May Oulpe, the daughter of a translator, in 1946. They had four children (Ann, Jamie, Sarah and Andrew) and five grandchildren (Matthew, Timothy, Mark, Jessica and Olivia). He died after a long illness on 30 December 2003.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2004 328 714, with portrait.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England