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Ophthalmological Duo

Ophthalmological Duo

Lynch and Brown have made major contributions to the treatment of glaucoma.

Ophthalmology has long run in the family of Mary G. Lynch ’80.

Her grandfather was an ophthalmologist, an uncle was an ophthalmologist, two cousins are ophthalmologists — and she always thought she’d become one too. She probably didn’t anticipate that she’d also marry an ophthalmologist, Reay Brown (HS, ophthalmology, 1979–82; faculty, ophthalmology, 1983–85), whom she met while jogging on the track at the Cooley Fitness Center.

In 1986, the couple got married while working together as ophthalmologists in Texas. Emory University recruited Lynch and Brown as a team in 1988.

The two collaborated in the laboratory and in caring for patients, trying to improve glaucoma treatment. Together, they were the lead authors of a 1986 paper that first described the now-definitive treatment for malignant glaucoma and the 1988 paper that first described the central nervous system side effects of beta-blocker eye drops.

In 1994, Emory sought to develop the Atlanta VA Medical Center’s ophthalmology service into a department with a full-time chief. Lynch volunteered for the job — and built the Atlanta VA’s ophthalmology department into one of the finest in the country.

Remaining active in the lab, Lynch and Brown had by 1999 obtained more than 25 patents for devices that made possible surgical treatment for mild to moderate glaucoma, which ordinarily required expensive medications. The innovations revolutionized glaucoma treatment, launching the field of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

One of their inventions evolved into the current iStent and other devices for draining excess aqueous fluid from the eye by bypassing the trabecular meshwork, a bed of tissue that drains fluid from the eye unless it becomes clogged. Lynch also devised the 360-degree suture trabeculotomy for treating congenital glaucoma.

In 2019, the American Glaucoma Society bestowed upon Lynch its Innovator Award, making her the first woman recipient of the accolade. (Brown won it in 2017.)

The Johns Hopkins Alumni Association recently gave Lynch a Distinguished Alumna Award for her wide-ranging accomplishments, including improving eye care at the local, regional and national levels as chair of the Association of Veteran Affairs Ophthalmologists’ Field Advisory Committee for Ophthalmology, based in Washington, D.C.
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