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Biographical entry Meyer, Eric Theodore (1918 - 1987)

KStJ; MRCS and FRCS 1951; BSc Witwatersrand 1939; MB BCh 1941; DOMS 1948.

2 July 1918
28 August 1987


Eric Meyer was born in London on 2 July 1918 the son of Reinhard Carl Johannes Meyer, an ophthalmic surgeon and Fellow of the College, who moved to South Africa in 1920, and his wife, Phyllis, née Bagshaw. He was at King Edward's School in Johannesburg before entering the University of Witwatersrand where he qualified in 1941. One year later he joined the South African Medical Corps and served with No 3 Squadron of the South African Air Force in the Middle East and Italy. He became senior medical officer of No 8 Wing with the rank of Major.

In 1948 he continued his training at Moorfield's Hospital in London and passed the FRCS examination in ophthalmology in 1951 before returning to South Africa to become part-time consultant surgeon at Johannesburg General, South Rand and the Transvaal Memorial Children's Hospitals. His father was at that time head of the department of ophthalmology in the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and in 1978 Eric Meyer achieved the same appointment. He was a founder of the College of Medicine, secretary to the faculty of ophthalmology, examiner in ophthalmology for the College and secretary of the South African Ophthalmological Society before his election as President in 1981. He received a merit award from the Medical Association of South Africa, the Sam and Dora Cohen Medal and the Jubilee Medal of the Ophthalmic Foundation.

He wrote articles on the visual problems of high speed flying, the use of the ophthalmoscope and on orbital tumours. He also published papers on the profile of the facial skeleton in negro bushmen and European skulls and pottery found on Mount Essexvale in Southern Rhodesia. This interest was probably the result of the influence of Raymond Dart, the noted anthropologist, who was Professor of Anatomy when Meyer was at medical school. He was an active member of the Anglican Church of St Aidan in Yeoville, a Lay Minister and one time organist at that church. He also served the Priory of South Africa in the Order of St John, and became a Knight of Grace in 1973 and Hospitalier of the Order in 1979. He made so many contributions to ophthalmology, teaching and to the community that it is no wonder that many of his colleagues wrote in admiration of his achievements to them personally and others in the profession.

On 17 July 1965 he married Elizabeth Gillian Lister (Gill), daughter of Sir Spencer Lister, Director of the South African Institute for Medical Research. He was a keen tennis player and shared his wife's special interest in Lipizzaner horses and other equestrian activities. He also swam with great enthusiasm and enjoyed bird watching and stamp collecting as well as music and archaeology. He died peacefully in his sleep on 28 August 1987 aged 69 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [SA med J 1989, 73, 66-67; SA ophthal news November 1987 p.33 and information from Mrs G Meyer].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England