Eugene McGillis Helveston was born in Detroit Michigan in 1934. There, he attended public schools through high school, and the University of Michigan where he received his BA in history in 1956 and MD degree in 1960. Following a rotating internship at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, he studied ophthalmology at Indiana University from 1961 through 1966. This training was interrupted by military service in the US Army Medical Corps 1962-64. He was a Heed Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Wilmer Eye Institute, under the tutelage of his mentor, Gunter von Noorden, MD, and had the honor of being the first Wilmer Fellow to study on a regular part-time basis with Marshall M. Parks, MD who he valued as a mentor and friend.
Dr. Helveston returned to Indiana University as Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology in 1974, founded the Section of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and established a fellowship-training program. He rapidly rose through the Academic ranks, served as department chairman, and eventually became Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology in 2000. Dr. Helveston served as Chair of the Council of the AAO, served on 4 AAO committees, and chaired the Home Study Course Section VI. He was president of AAPOS, the International Strabismological Association and the American Orthoptic Council, and editor of the American Orthoptic Journal.
Dr. Helveston has received numerous honors including the Kellogg Scholar of the University of Michigan, the Humanitarian of the Year and Silver Recognition Award from the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology, the Outstanding Humanitarian and Life Time Achievement award from the AAO, and the Distinguished Faculty Award from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Helveston has presented more than 20 Named Lectureships. These include The Costenbader Lecture, The Richard G. Scobee Memorial Lecture, the Bielschowsky Lecture, the first Gunter von Noorden Lecture, The William Mackenzie Lecture in Glasgow, The Percival J. Hay Lecture and the first Angeline Parks Memorial Lecture in 1989.
He has authored or co-authored three ophthalmology textbooks and more than 300 scientific papers, book chapters, reviews, and occasional papers. International Ophthalmology has been a keen interest of Dr. Helveston as evidenced by over 25 medical missions, primarily with ORBIS, where he held several administrative positions after retiring from full time practice.
He founded ORBIS telemedicine – Cyber-Sight – leading the program for 14 years and heading a team of volunteers who completed more than 12,000 tele-ophthalmology consultations. Cyber-Sight won the President’s award from the American Telemedicine Association for excellence in 2010. Dr. Helveston’s passions and energy as a teacher define him.
He has an uncanny ability to take complex topics and explain them in understandable terms, such as comparing Whitnall’s Ligament to a clothes-line, Lockwood’s ligament to a hammock, and demonstrating that the superior oblique tendon moved like a telescope. A prolific reader, he has enjoyed a life-time of study and personal growth within and beyond ophthalmology, including the 2016 publication of The Second Decade, a guide for parents of 10 to 20-year-olds. He mentored fellows and residents in the clinic and dozens of colleagues from around the world, in person and via telemedicine. He initiated the fellowship program at Indiana University which has trained the second largest number of pediatric ophthalmology fellows in the United States. This program continues with a team that includes his two sons- in-law, Drs David Plager and Derek Sprunger.
A life-long enjoyment of fresh water boating remains a family passion. However, Dr. Helveston’s greatest joy and abiding interest remains his family with daughters Martha and Lisa, 4 grandchildren, and his wife Barbara, with whom he resides in Indianapolis, IN.