Initially destined for a career in rural Family Practice, Wayne Fung’s service as an Air Force Flight Surgeon first exposed him to ophthalmology. His residency training in 1960s San Francisco took place just before the dawn of phacoemulsification and VISC vitrectomy techniques. A Heed Fellowship with Ed Okun at Washington University, followed by a surgical retina fellowship with Ed Norton and Don Gass at Bascom Palmer connected him with eye-opening techniques including intravitreal air for giant tears and Machemer’s vitreous research.
Steady hands, a convergence of maturing technologies and a courageous creativity to try new techniques helped to bring ophthalmic surgery into this modern era. Dr. Fung was selected to be one of the first seven US surgeons to receive a VISC cutter from Bob Machemer; and his was the first practice west of the Mississippi River to obtain a phacoemulsification unit from Charles Kelman. With the two new instruments, patients in need and a curious mind, he was an integral collaborator in early conversations on vitrectomy for anterior and posterior segment applications.
From his private practice, he published over 38 peer-reviewed manuscripts including Vitrectomy for CME following Cataract Surgery (Irvine-Gass Syndrome), Intravitreal air for Giant Tears, the 20g intravitreal cryoprobe, case-selection criteria for phacoemulsification based on a 1978 10-year retrospective and on one of the first efforts for a medical therapy for neovascular AMD, alpha-interferon 2a in 1991. Additionally, as an early posterior-anterior segment surgeon, Dr. Fung flew 35 times over 8 years to serve as the personal ophthalmologist to the President of Taiwan.
Dr. Fung is also deeply beloved by nearly 5 decades of Ophthalmology residents and fellows at California Pacific Medical Center. His patient teaching of indirect ophthalmoscopy to ‘find the second hole’, retinal anatomic drawings, phaco, vitrectomy and scleral buckling live on in his students. He continues to participate in Grand Rounds and is an avid fundraiser as a Board Director for the Pacific Vision Foundation.
Wayne is a contributing member of several international and national associations including The Society of Heed Fellows, Macula Society, Club Jules Gonin, The American Academy of Ophthalmology and The Retina Society for which he served as Vice President and President. Over four decades, his numerous papers, courses and committee appointments earned him the AAO Lifetime Service Award in 2010. In service of our global community, he has flown 9 missions with Project Orbis from Ethiopia to Cuba to Bangladesh.
In the words of Dr. Susan Day, “ Wayne Fung epitomizes the CPMC spirit. Ever-present, ever-smiling, ever-supportive of others, each resident who trained at PMC cum PPMC cum CPMC holds Wayne in high regard. Wayne had the perfect bedside manner- patient with patients; able to communicate clearly; considerate and respectful of people from all walks of life. If there was a call for a volunteer, Wayne would raise his hand. If there was a resident walking home when his gray Porsche drove by, Wayne would offer a lift. If an attending was needed for surgery, Wayne would rise to the occasion if at all possible.
Memories of Wayne include attendance at the iconic Letterman fluorescein angiogram sessions (complete with bike rides across the Golden Gate Bridge); sneaking residents into the doctors’ dining room; stopping to pick up litter strewn on a hallway; greetings to team members regardless of stature in life; and of course, tending to his amazing salt-water aquarium. Wayne’s greatest asset is probably wife Helen, who was ever-present at functions sponsored by CPMC ophthalmology. Whether annual Barkan days, medical staff events, weekly grand rounds, or chicken parties, Wayne was always present. It is highly likely that, were attendance taken over the years, Wayne would clearly surpass all others.”