Dr Walter Eyre Lambert 1859 - 1930

Famous New York Eye Surgeon - compiled by Andy Lambert

Walter was born in Charleston South Carolina USA, on the 14th of February 1859 He was forth in a line of Walters. His Father's, his Grandfather's and Great Grandfather's names, had all been Walters. Both grandparents having lived at Castle Lambert in Ireland. His Father having emigrated to the USA, prior to young Walters birth. Walter was to get the chance to grow up in the bustling port that was Charleston, with it's great harbours and magnificent scenery.

He would still have been a baby however when the Confederate guns started to shell the town, as the blockade of Charleston begun. Four years later when it was all over, the town was devastated. As with all tragedies, life still goes on and when he was old enough Walter attended College there. Graduating at the age of eighteen. He was employed for a time as a reporter on the local newspaper.

At the age of twenty he came to Ireland, where he his widowed Father had also previously returned to. He wished to join the British Arm as a surgeon and went to Dublin to study medicine as an apprentice to Dr John Evans. He went on to study at The College of Physicians and Surgeons in Dublin and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh.

His Internship was served at Dublin's Rotunda 'lying-in' Hospital (the first 'lying-in' hospital in Ireland and the United Kingdom) and the just as famous Meath Hospital. also in Dublin. He finished his training with several months at Fuchs's clinic in Vienna. This was followed by a period of being ship's surgeon on transatlantic liners, sailing between Liverpool and New York. Clearly he must have taken to New York as after two years of 'commuting' he settled there.

He quickly joined the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, where he was to spend the rest of his working life. He eventually became first Assistant in 1896, progressed to Executive Surgeon and was Consulting Surgeon from 1924 to 1930. He was not a man to 'sit around' and devoted a lot of his time to the American Ophthalmological Society . He also opened an eye specialist office, at his home at 112 East Thirty Fourth Street in New York and practised there until his death. In October 1910 a former patient Joseph Monoson tried to claim $2000 damages alleging that Dr. Walter had broken off the shaft of a fine needle in his eye duct. The case was rejected by a jury when it went to court.

He was a Fellow of the American Medical Association, a member of and former President of the New York Ophthalmological Society and the Hospital Graduate's Club; twice Chairman of the Section on Ophthalmology of the Academy of Medicine; and member and past President of the British Schools and Universities Club, a member of the University, Century, and Calumet Clubs, and one time Professor of Ophthalmology in the New York Polyclinic Medical School

During his long and successful working life, he is credited with inventing a device called a refractometer. This was used to estimating errors in refraction and improve eye treatment.

He passed away on 28th July 1930 whilst vacating at Murray Bay in Canada. His health had not been robust for several months, following an attack of pneumonia in February, but his death came as a great shock to hosts of friends

He is buried at New York's Woodlawn Cemetery. The British Consul General H. G. Armstrong expressed in the New York Times "He was an unusual person - tender generous and chivalrous, utterly without malice and full of loyalty"

Roger Hill
The New Your Times
American Ophthalmological Society
The National Encyclopaedia of American Biography