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Walter H. Stern, MD, retired

Walter H. Stern, M.D.

Undergraduate School

  • Dartmouth College
    Hanover, NH

Medical School

  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL

Ophthalmology Residency

  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL

Retinal Fellowship

  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL


Dr. Stern attended Dartmouth College, graduating as a member of the academic honorary society, Phi Beta Kappa. From there he attended medical school at the University of Chicago where he achieved similar academic distinction for which he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honorary society. Dr. Stern stayed there for his internship and then for his ophthalmology residency, rising to the position of chief resident. He remained at that institution for his retinal fellowship.

Dr. Stern joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, where he served initially as the acting Chief of Ophthalmology and then as the Director of the Vitreoretinal Service for the next 15 years. In addition to teaching medical students, ophthalmology residents and retinal fellows, Dr. Stern worked hard to help practicing ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons hone their skills. He organized and chaired several vitrectomy and microsurgical workshops during that time and organized and chaired several ophthalmologic meetings. He taught extensively at meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eventually receiving its Honor award; and also authored laboratory vitrectomy teaching manuals to help other vitreoretinal surgeons.

In addition to teaching, he enjoyed and excelled at research. He directed the Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy Study Group, and was co-director of the Uveitis Survey. He was awarded nine different grants to fund a variety of research projects, including the National Institute of Health’s multicenter trial that established the efficacy of silicone oil in complicated retinal detachments. He authored or coauthored 59 research papers in medical journals, coauthored chapters in three different medical textbooks, and was a co-editor of another textbook concerning vitrectomy and surgical techniques. The university recognized his many efforts, and he rose to the level of full Professor of Ophthalmology.

After 14 years in academia, Dr. Stern decided to spend more time with his true professional love, helping patients with complex retinal problems, and so moved to the San Francisco Peninsula, where he joined Dr. Sterling Haidt to form the partnership that is now Northern California Retina Vitreous Associates. His partners especially valued his medical opinions and academic expertise, often referring to him as "The Professor". During his career, Dr. Stern maintained memberships in multiple exclusive ophthalmologic and retinal organizations, including the Retina Society, the Macula Society, the American Society of Retina Specialists, and the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology.

In his spare time, Dr. Stern has enjoyed golf and skiing, as well as spending time in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. He especially enjoys time with his wife Betty and the rest of his family, and has been able to spend more time with them all since his retirement. He feels fortunate that his children, their spouses, and his five grandchildren are all nearby.