Dr. Bert Glaser, retina specialist

Dr. Bert M. Glaser, a surgeon who researched and treated diseases of the retina and other eye conditions, died of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, Thursday at his Canton home. He was 67.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y. and raised in Queens, he was the son of Irving Glaser, a window glazier, and his wife, Mildred.

He graduated from Jamaica High School at age 15 and earned a bachelor's degree at New York University. After he graduating from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he did an internship in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Glaser then performed his residency at Hopkins and was named chief resident and a vitreo-retinal fellow at the Wilmer Eye Institute. He trained with Dr. Ronald G. Michels, who died in 1991.

Dr. Glaser, who spent 13 years at Hopkins, was professor of ophthalmology and director of the Center for Vitreo-retinal Research at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

He formed a private practice in 1989. It was initially housed at the Osler Medical Building in Towson. He later expanded his practice and had offices in Chevy Chase, Tysons Corner and Fredericksburg, Va., among other places.

In 2003 he named his practice the National Retina Institute. It is located in Towson, and he worked there with a staff of medical colleagues.

"I don't think you could find a better clinician or a person devoted to patient care," said June Manzo, his practice administrator. "He was a great teacher and mentor. His patients were so devoted to him. They often said, 'He saved my eyesight.'"

Colleagues said Dr. Glaser set up his medical practice as an academic model, with departments devoted to treating retina diseases, research and rehabilitation. He also offered training to aspiring retina specialists in a fellowship program. His center ran ophthalmic clinical trials.

"He was a visionary who was extremely bright and saw opportunities on the clinical side and the health care delivery side," said Alan Reider, friend and attorney who resides in Chevy Chase. "He was creative physician and saw ways of dealing with disease beyond traditional methods."

Dr. Glaser worked to develop surgical techniques for retinal disease. Colleagues said his method of repairing macular holes was widely applied by other medical practitioners. He also worked in diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachments.

He received awards from the Macula Society, the Retina Research Foundation, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

"He was considered one of the foremost practitioners of cutting edge technology in the treatment of patients," said Ron Wilner, who worked with him in his medical practice.

In 1995, Dr. Glaser was featured in news stories when he treated Minnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett, who was diagnosed with glaucoma in his right eye. The baseball player was later voted into the Hall of Fame.

Dr. Glaser also founded a research and development firm, Ocular Proteomics, for the treatment of ocular diseases.

In 2009 he suffered a motorcycle accident while traveling on the Jones Falls Expressway. The accident left him without the use of his lower limbs.

"He was no longer able to perform surgery and he devoted his time to his research and consulting with his staff of attending physicians," said Mr. Wilner.

Dr. Glaser began using the Exoskeleton-Assisted Walking device, described as a robotic suit worn on the body that enables a person with paralysis to stand and walk. He then began skiing, hand cycling and sports car driving.

"He had drive and perseverance and wanted to continue to live as full a life as he possibly could, even with a disability," said his wife Ronnie Sobel Glaser.

Dr. Glaser lived on Baltimore's waterfront and was a boating enthusiast. In 2006 he purchased, with his sons, Midnight Express Powerboats, a custom boat manufacturing company located in South Florida.

After the accident, his sons designed a customized boat that allowed Dr. Glaser to sail.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at Sol Levinson and Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills.

In addition to his wife of 41 years; survivors include two sons, Eric Glaser and Harris Glaser, both of Miami, Fla.; and a sister, Rita Taylor of Franklin Lakes, N.J.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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