Norman Henry Ashton CBE. 11 September 1913 – 4 January 2000

Philip J. Luthert, Cynthia Medford Langley

Elected F.R.S. 1971


Norman Ashton, the first ophthalmic pathologist in the UK, spent his career furthering the understanding and treatment of eye disease and exercising the political acumen to garner the funding necessary to advance this new field. His demonstration of the obliteration of growing retinal endothelial cells caused by the excessive administration of oxygen in premature infants is perhaps his best–known work. Apart from this, his casts of the choroidal and trabecular meshwork circulation and Schlemm's canal were the first to display the exact anatomy of these structures to the ophthalmic community. Studies of the pathogenesis of cotton wool spots, neovascularization and microaneurysms and the behaviour of retinal vessels contributed lastingly to the understanding of retinal vascular disease. With associates he demonstrated the role of the endothelium in the blood–retina barrier. Investigation of diabetic, hypertensive and other retinopathies provided fundamental contributions to the comprehension of these conditions. Original studies established an insight into amoebic ocular infections, ocular toxocariasis, nosematosis and a collection of eye diseases in animals and fish. Fight for Sight and the European Ophthalmic Pathological Society owe their beginnings, in large part, to his foresight and energy. He is remembered as a worthy researcher, a witty speaker, a respected supervisor and a kind man.