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Lee Todd Nordan
June 19, 1946 - December 21, 2015

"Calm, casual and competent"

Remembered by Steve Fried:

Lee was an acclaimed eye surgeon who was an international leader in refractive eye surgery. He died from Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of a brain tumor. During our years at NRHS, Lee, Paul Kane and I were inseparable. Lee and I were both on the wrestling team (he was 1st string, I was not). I was shocked at the news and while Sam, his Dad, has probably passed, I hope his Mom, Lynne, and brother Josh are doing well.

Published in the San Diego Union Tribune, Jan. 10, 2016:

Lee T. Nordan, MD, an internationally acclaimed refractive and corneal transplant surgeon, died on Monday, December 21, 2015. For the past 20 months, Lee battled glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain tumor, with strength, courage and dignity. When he succumbed, he was surrounded by his loving family and friends.

As an ophthalmologist, he set the gold standard for refractive surgery and was a pioneer in this early emerging technology. He also specialized in corneal transplant and cataract surgery. As a professor at Jules Stein Eye Institute, he was an innovator and mentor. In addition, he published countless articles and textbooks in the field of ophthalmology. His accomplishments include upwards of 20 US patents. Before his passing, he was working on other significant medical technologies that promised world-wide benefits.

Lee trained at Jules Stein Eye Institute, at the University of New Mexico and with professor Jos I. Barraquer, MD, of Bogota, Colombia, the founder of lamellar refractive surgery. He was also involved in developing several start-up companies. He worked as a consultant with, multiple big pharmaceutical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and Allergan, and was an early-stage investor and advisor to SOBE, a major soft drink company, prior to it being sold to PepsiCo.

In his youth, Lee was a role model for many years of summer campers in his care, flew airplanes and helicopters, received the National Red Cross Award for saving lives in a white water accident, was a champion wrestler and authored training manuals on both helicopters and golf. Above all, he believed in integrity and excellence both in his profession and personal life.

Lee was a devoted family man and found the love of his life in Helen. He is survived by his two beautiful sons, Taylor and Andre, his mother; Lynne Nordan; and his brother, Josh Nordan. Taylor is attending his father's Alma Mater, Tufts University, and Andre is waiting on his college acceptances. Lee, we all wish you eternal peace, love and happiness. You will be truly missed, but will never be forgotten.

Condolences may be sent to: Mrs. Helen Nordan, POB 675278, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 (

Donations can be made to Tufts University or MD Anderson in Lee's Honor: Trustees of Tufts College, Lee Nordan Memorial Scholarship Fund, C/O Eric Johnson 80 George Street, Medford, MA 02155. Direct contributions may be made to:; add "Glioblastoma Research"

Published by the American Academy of Opthalomology:

Lee T. Nordan, MD, an internationally recognized authority on refractive surgery died Dec. 21, 2015, at the age of 69.

Dr. Nordan was most recently a practice consultant at North County Laser Eye Associates, in Carlsbad, California. Prior to that, he was a practicing cataract and corneal transplantation surgeon and an assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Dr. Nordan completed his corneal and external disease fellowship at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in 1978. He received his MD from the University of New Mexico in 1974. He was trained by professor José I. Barraquer, MD, of Bogota, Colombia, the founder of lamellar refractive surgery. His accomplishments include five US patents related to eye surgery, including a patent for a multifocal IOL.

Dr. Nordan was a well-published author, with many articles and a major textbook in refractive surgery, "The Surgical Rehabilitation of Vision," to his credit. He also served on the editorial board of Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today for several years in the 2000s and was influential in shaping much of the publication’s content during its early years.

In a 2011 interview with CRST,1 Dr. Nordan spoke about his decision to stop practicing ophthalmology. “Ophthalmology offered me just the right combination of interaction with patients, surgery, and opportunities for product innovation. After 35 years of activity within the same profession, I felt it was appropriate to leave on a high note, rather than when my surgical skills were declining or when I had stopped learning new techniques and ideas. Improving ocular function and decreasing the incidence of ocular disease are a higher calling that will never become obsolete."

Dr. Nordan credited Dr. Barraquer and Thomas Pettit MD, his corneal fellowship mentor, as his main influences in pursuing a career in corneal lamellar surgery.

1. Nordan L. "5 Questions with Lee T. Nordan, MD". Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today. July 2011: 74.+

Published in EyeWire Today, Dec. 22, 2015:
Refractive Surgery Pioneer Lee Nordan, MD, Passes Away

Published in Ocular Surgery News, Jan. 8, 2016:
Ophthalmic community mourns loss of innovator Lee T. Nordan, MD

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