Prof. Fankhauser will forever be remembered as the father of automated perimetry and for his pioneering work in the use of lasers in ophthalmology. At Haag-Streit he will forever be remembered as the father of the Octopus perimeter.
He was born on 7 September, 1924, in Thun, in Switzerland and received his MD from the Medical Faculty of University of Berne in 1950. He spent many years in Berne as a disciple of Prof. Hans Goldmann, who invented the manual Goldmann perimeter. There he developed his passion to continually improve visual fields testing:
“In the 1960s, when I was assistant Medical Director and was making my rounds with Prof. Hans Goldmann, he complained about poor quality visual field measurements made by the assistants. Apparently it did not help to use a physically perfect hand perimeter (the Goldmann perimeter) when the person behind the perimeter was not perfect.”
Working closely with a team of mathematicians, physicists and engineers, he and his collaborators first attempted to automate kinetic perimetry. The breakthrough arrived when he dared break away from the much esteemed Goldmann kinetic method and produced and published data on the first fully automated static perimeter. The result was the Octopus 201 and this was introduced commercially in 1974.
Since then more than 20’000 Octopus perimeters have been used in eyecare practices around the world. More than 10’000 Octopus visual field devices are estimated to be in regular use today. Every year millions of patients are tested on an Octopus perimeter and Prof. Franz Fankhauser’s legacy will continue to improve patient’s life beyond his death.
He is survived by his wife Sylwia and his son Franz Fankhauser Jun., also an accomplished Ophthalmic Physician.
To read more about him and his accomplishments: