Wolfgang Haigis PhD Obituary

Wolfgang Haigis PhD Obituary

By Kenneth J Hoffer MD

Wolfgang Haigis was born in Stuttgart, Germany on May 30, 1947.  He attended Schillerschule in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt from 1954-1958 and Gottlieb-Daimler Gymnasium in the same city from 1958-1962.  He then moved to Würzburg to attend High School at the Naturwissenschaftlich- Neusprachliches Röntgengymnasium from 1962-1967.

In 1968 he began his academic studies at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Würzburg receiving his PhD diploma on July 5, 1974.  He began his work at the Eye Clinic at the University of Würzburg on June 1, 1977 and received a promotion at the university on July 19, 1980.  He became a Professor of Ophthalmology at the university’s eye department.

Few knew that when Wolf was a student, and also at the beginning of his career, he worked as a DJ in a disco in the little village of Eibelstadt just outside Würzburg.  He was very popular, especially with the girls.

Wolf married Katharina Haigis on May 8, 1987. Katrine still works as a lawyer in a small law office in Hassfurt (her birthplace) practicing family and criminal law.

Wolf, as a physicist, began working on immersion ultrasound measurements of the eye prior to cataract surgery at the clinic.  When he was approached in the mid-1990s by Carl Zeiss Meditech to help them set up the first optical biometer (the IOLMaster), he recognized that the instrument results for axial eye length had to match that of immersion ultrasound to allow its use with conventional formulas.  His concept worked smoothly and led to the IOLMaster becoming the Gold Standard for biometry.  All subsequent optical biometers followed his standard.

Wolf gave over 490 lectures on these subjects all over the world and put on over 158 courses, many at the European Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery (ESCRS) meetings and of the latter he was most proud of them.  He was the author of 188 scientific publications.  He was a founding member of Technology in Medicine and Healthcare (TIMUG) and in 2009 was awarded the first Science Prize by the German-speaking Society for Intraocular Lens Implantation, Interventional and Refractive Surgery (DGII).  He was inducted as a member of the International Intraocular Implant Club (IIIC) in 2008.

Because there was a need for cataract/IOL surgeons to have access to the latest intraocular lens (IOL) constants when calculating IOL powers, in October 1999, Wolf set up a website with these values that he personally calculated from series of cases sent to him by surgeons from around the world.  He called the site the ULIB (User Group for Laser Interference Biometry) and it became used by all surgeons and manufacturers around the world.  He did this for no financial reward.

In 2000, he published his formula for IOL power which eschewed the use of corneal power, replacing it with anterior chamber depth and using three lens constants.  The results using his formula have been excellent over these past 20 years.  He also developed the Haigis L formula for calculations in eyes that have had previous laser refractive surgery which has also been very successful.

In 2005, he joined five colleagues (Aramberri, Hoffer, Norrby, Olsen, Shammas) to form the IOL Power Club (IPC) and served as its Treasurer from 2005-13.  He was elected President for his 20013-15 tenure.  He participated in all the activities of the club until his illness began and he missed his first meeting in 2017.  At great difficulty, he attended his last meeting in St. Pete Beach, FL in 2018.  The IPC has always been very important and dear to him and the club instituted the Haigis Lecture at its annual meetings; the first being given in Napa, CA by David Chang MD only five days before he passed away in his sleep on October 15, 2019.

Wolf was a very warm individual and paid attention to everyone who wished to talk to him. He loved anything Italian (including his ancient Fiat he called his “bella la’machina”) as well as red wine and especially Irish coffees.  He was a close personal friend of mine for the past 40 years and I will miss him very much.  He is survived by his lovely wife Katharina and son Michael.

 

Wolfgang Haigis PhD at the IOL Power Club Scientific Meeting in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 2013.

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