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Dr. Steven Shearing, 76, eye surgery pioneer, dies

Dr. Steven Shearing, a pioneer in cataract surgery and the husband of former Nevada Supreme Court Justice Miriam Shearing, died from a ruptured aneurism Sunday night.

“He was one of the most brilliant ophthalmologists this community ever had,” said former Supreme Court Justice Bill Maupin, who has been close friends with the Shearings for more than 25 years. “He was a visionary, a brilliant doctor and a brilliant person, a wonderful man, a wonderful father and a wonderful husband.

“I never met an individual who was so great in their professional career and so great a family man. He did it all.”

Shearing, 76, developed the first compressible lens in the 1970s, revolutionizing cataract surgery by placing springs on the implants that help keep them in place. He patented and received widespread recognition for his invention — called the Shearing lens. Millions of people worldwide see better thanks to his “compressible posterior chamber intraocular lens.”

Shearing began practicing ophthalmology in Las Vegas in 1969 — the same year his wife was admitted to practice law in Nevada. She later became the first woman elected as a justice to the Nevada Supreme Court. The couple was married for more than 50 years.

He founded the Shearing Eye Institute in Las Vegas. He retired in 2000, three years after partnering with Dr. Kenneth Westfield, who now owns the clinic known as the Westfield Eye Centers.

“He was one of the real icons of cataract surgery in the United States,” Westfield said. “His (invention) is still used today in most surgeries.”

In addition to being an inventor, Shearing did a lot of teaching in the 1970s and ’80s.

“He held courses that taught this radically new technique in cataract surgery,” Westfield said. “He was a mentor not only to me, but to other ophthalmologists in Las Vegas. He was always helpful.”

A 1950 graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, Shearing earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornell University. He earned his MD from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of California, San Francisco.

In 1993, the university established the Steven P. Shearing Chair of Ophthalmology.

Shearing was honored by the Nevada Assembly as Inventor of the Year in 1989 and as Innovator of the Year by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in 1986.

Shearing is survived by his wife, Miriam; a son; and two daughters.

A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Palm Mortuary, 7600 Eastern Ave.

Contact Doug McMurdo at dmcmurdo@reviewjournal.
com or 702-224-5512.

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