Dr. Harvey E. Thorpe was an ophthalmologist whose techniques and inventions of medical instruments contributed to the study of the eye.
Dr. Thorpe lectured extensively under the auspices of ophthalmology societies in the United States and in India, Japan, South America, Switzerland, Israel, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Belgium, the British Isles and Mexico.
He once learned enough Spanish that after considerable practice he was able to deliver a lecture in that language at a meeting in Mexico. He lectured at universities throughout the United States.
Dr. Thorpe modified the slit lamp and was one of the first members of his profession to teach its use as a biomicroscope for examining the eyes.
He invented a gonioscope, a small instrument with prisms used to observe various portions of the inner part of the eye. The gonioscope is considered important in the treatment of glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye).
He invented the endoscope, an instrument for finding small foreign bodies within the eye, and other instruments used in eye surgery.
Dr. Thorpe presented annual lectures before the American Academy of Ophthalmology to which physicians came from throughout the world. For many years, he conducted yearly courses at UPMC Montefiore Hospital, where he taught the use of the slit lamp and lectured on a variety of subjects associated with his profession. He published some 50 papers on various aspects of his profession.
He established a residency in ophthalmology at UPMC Montefiore Hospital; where he was a great teacher and keen observer and valued integrity above all else.
Dr. Thorpe, a native of Latvia, emigrated to this country in 1906 and resided in Squirrel Hill. He demonstrated his interest in ophthalmology as a high school student, assisting at the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary Eye Clinic.
He was ophthalmologist-in-chief at Montefiore Hospital from 1928 to 1965. He was visiting professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and emeritus ophthalmologist at Eye and Ear Hospital. He received his bachelor of science degree from Pitt in electrical engineering in 1916, graduating cum laude in 1919. He did post-graduate work in ophthalmology in New York City and Cornell University Medical College.
He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Ophthalmology Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Pittsburgh Ophthalmology Society.
In 1980, Dr. Thorpe was named “Man of the Year” by the Pittsburgh Ophthalmology Society and established the Harvey E. Thorpe Lecture, delivering the first lecture in the series. This named lecture continues today and is the highlight for the Pittsburgh Ophthalmology Society’s annual meeting.