Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Jay Martin Enoch
Jay Martin Enoch "Serving others counts most!"

Jay Martin Enoch (1929– )
Vision Scientist
Optometry 1950

For much of a career that spans five decades, Jay Enoch has been at the forefront of optometric and ophthalmological research, education and practice. In establishing that the eye's retinal receptors are fiberoptic elements acting as waveguides, Enoch created a model that allowed a deeper understanding of how the eye sees, and of the quality of image formation in the eye. He pioneered new techniques and standards leading to improvements in perimetry (assessing the central and peripheral visual field), and developed techniques for optimizing vision for those with front-of-the-eye low vision problems. He also helped to optimize and, in some cases, to restore vision in hundreds of infants with aniridia (absence of an iris), albinism, congenital cataracts due to rubella and other causes, infantile glaucoma, and differences in eye size (which result in special visual problems). Enoch was instrumental in helping to establish the National Eye Institute at NIH and creating the modern Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and co-founded the first modern optometry school in India. Enoch has long worked for closer cooperation between the fields of optometry and ophthalmology, and is currently professor of the graduate school and dean emeritus of optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, and professor in the department of ophthalmology at University of California, San Francisco.

After graduating from Bronx High School of Science in 1946, Enoch attended Columbia College on a New York State Regents Scholarship and later transferred to the School of Optometry. While attending an undergraduate dance in 1948, he overheard Prof. Isidore Finkelstein offering students one dollar an hour to participate in a U.S. Army research project designed to understand the physiology of the cornea and to develop better contact lenses, emerging fields in which Finkelstein was a leader. After accidentally bumping Finkelstein as a means of introducing himself, Enoch became part of the project. When the U.S. Army took over the program during the Korean War, Finkelstein and his associate, Prof. George Smelser of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, arranged for Enoch to lead similar research activity at the U.S. Army Medical Research Laboratory in Fort Knox, Ky. After earning his PhD in physiological optics at Ohio State University in 1956, Enoch adapted the techniques he first learned at Columbia to the living eye.

Nominated by Walt Dryfoos


The Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute

Write Columbia's History

Columbia's history, as seen by those who have studied, taught, and worked here.

Columbians Ahead of Their Time

Columbians have changed the world and how we see it.

C250 Celebrates | C250 Perspectives | C250 Forum | C250 Events | C250 To Go |
Contact C250 | Privacy Policy | About This Web Site | © Copyright 2004 Columbia University