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Executive Director of American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Plans to Retire




A search committee has been formed.

(Press Release) FAIRFAX, VA – The Executive Committee of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery announced that David Karcher, executive director/CEO, will retire effective Dec. 31, 2018. Karcher will act as a consultant for ASCRS through 2021.

Karcher has served as the executive director/CEO of ASCRS since August 1981. Under his leadership, membership has grown to more than 8,500, the organization has expanded from three employees to 65, and the annual budget has increased from $360,000 to more than $23 million. Eyeworld, the pre-eminent news magazine among ophthalmologists, has become the most widely read news publication in anterior segment surgery and the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery is one of the most respected clinical publications among ophthalmologists. Karcher served as publisher for both publications during his tenure with ASCRS.

Under his leadership, the governance for ASCRS was reorganized, structuring the scientific advisory board into clinical committees which represent the backbone of ASCRS. These committees are actively engaged in developing the organization’s annual meeting, one of the largest gatherings of anterior segment specialists worldwide. Under Karcher’s leadership, this meeting, held first in 1982, has grown from 600 registrants to upwards of 7,000.

Karcher directed the organization’s successful legal support aimed at invalidating a patent claim for a cataract incision, which resulted in the protection of all ophthalmologists from its enforcement. This landmark decision paved the way for an ASCRS-led legislative initiative, which secured a key patent law change that precludes individuals from enforcing patents on surgical procedures that are unaffiliated with a device or a drug from all healthcare providers.


The influence of David Karcher’s leadership expands well beyond ASCRS. Perceiving a gap between ophthalmic practices and administrative functions, he co-founded The American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) in 1985. Today, ASOA is the premier organization for the business side of the ophthalmic practice, providing support, tools and resources to help ophthalmologists grow, expand and improve their businesses. Karcher also facilitated development of the ASCRS Foundation, providing humanitarian support domestically and internationally. Each year in the U.S., hundreds of eligible cataract patients who are unable to afford surgery are paired with volunteer surgeons who perform necessary procedures. In Ethiopia, more than 23,000 patients annually are treated through ASCRS Foundation’s Robert Sinskey Eye Institute in Addis Ababa.

“For more than three decades David Karcher’s presence has influenced the growth and maturation of our Society,” said Dr. Stephen A. Obstbaum, ASCRS past president. “He guided the transformation of the American Intra-Ocular Implant Society to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, he formed strategic relationships with both domestic and international organizations, and he built personal relationships with key figures throughout the world. He is among the most respected figures in ophthalmology and a true friend to those who have had the privilege to work with him. His values will endure as an influence for the future and be an example for those who will follow in his footsteps.”

“There is no one individual who is more responsible for the success of ASCRS than David Karcher,” said Dr. Edward J. Holland, chair, ASCRS Program Committee. “Ophthalmologists, administrators and patients worldwide have benefited from Dave’s dedicated work. His honesty, humility, integrity and outstanding leadership have made our organization exceptional. We will never replace David Karcher but look to build on the foundation and principles he has instituted for ASCRS.”

“I have been blessed over these many years to work with a dedicated and loyal staff who have been taking direction from a very dynamic and engaged group of volunteer leaders,” said Karcher. “I look forward to watching — from a different vantage point — ASCRS, the ASCRS Foundation and ASOA continue to grow and prosper.”

A search committee has been formed, chaired by Dr. Eric D. Donnenfeld, with interviews beginning in late summer or early fall of 2017. Assisting in the search will be the well-known executive search firm of Leonard Pfeiffer & Company in Washington, DC. All inquiries should be sent to Zara Sulayman,, 202-737-6327 x 24, Washington, DC 20004-1140.




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