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Biographical entry Tay, Waren (1843 - 1927)

MRCS April 25th 1866; FRCS June 10th 1869; LSA 1869.

15 May 1927
Dermatologist, General surgeon and Ophthalmologist


Educated at the London Hospital, where he was appointed Assistant Surgeon and Ophthalmologist in 1869, Surgeon in 1876, and Consulting Surgeon in 1902. He practised for many years at 4 Finsbury Square, one of the fine old Georgian houses now replaced by blocks of offices. He was perhaps the last of the men in consulting practice in London who were first general surgeons, but with their general work combined the practice of ophthalmology. Tay was one of them; Jonathan Hutchinson was another. Tay and Hutchinson were close colleagues and collaborators both in clinical observation and in literary work. To this day 'Tay's choroiditis' is the term used for the fine yellowish spots which appear in the macular region of the fundus of the eye as one of the signs of senile degeneration; and the discovery of this characteristic lesion was but one of his observations. Tay was elected Assistant Surgeon to the Moorfields Eye Hospital in 1877, having served for some time previously as Clinical Assistant to Jonathan Hutchinson (qv). He became Surgeon on the resignation of Sir William Bowman (qv) in 1882 and resigned his appointment in 1904, when he was succeeded by Sir William T Lister.

Besides being a distinguished authority on the eye, Waren Tay was well known as a skin specialist and he was also skilled in the diseases of children. At the time of his death he was Consulting Surgeon to the Moorfields Eye Hospital, to the Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, Blackfriars, and to the Queen's Hospital for Children, Hackney Road.

He retired from the staff of the London Hospital in 1902, and lived alone till his death at 61 Oakfield Road, West Croydon. He was unmarried, and died at Croydon on May 15th, 1927.

The reputation of Waren Tay was somewhat overshadowed by his two great colleagues, Dr Hughlings Jackson and Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, for he was singularly modest and self-effacing. It was Tay's habit to consider every possibility when studying a case. He was incapable, therefore, of dogmatic teaching or of arriving rapidly at a conclusion.

Translation of Hebra and Kaposi's On Diseases of the Skin: the Exanthemata, vols iii-v, 8vo, London (New Sydenham Society), 1866-80.
"Statistical Reports on Year's Mortality" (with JONATHAN HUTCHINSON), Lond Hosp Rep, 1866-8, iii-iv.
"Remarks on Case of Tetanus treated with Hydrate of Chloral." - Brit Med Jour, 1870, i, 329.
"Case of Acute Tuberculosis following on Disease of the Hip." - Ibid, 1871, i, 222.
"Changes in the Region of the Yellow Spot in Each Eye of an Infant." - Trans Ophthalmol Soc, 1880-1, i, 55; 1884, iv, 158; 1892, xii, 125.
"Two Cases of Optic Neuritis without Impairment of Vision, after Injury to the Head." - Ibid, 1881-2, ii, 66.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lond Hosp Gaz, 1926-7, xxx, 238. Lancet, 1927, i, 1161. Brit Med Jour, 1927, i, 987. Treacher Collins's History and Traditions of the Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, 1929, with characteristic portrait facing p 151. Lond Hosp Gaz, 1898, iv, 170, with portrait].

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