Dr. Francisco Contreras (1926-2023)

Jul 25, 2023Anuncio, Obituaries

Dr. Francisco Contreras

Nos entristece profundamente anunciar el fallecimiento del Dr. Francisco Contreras Campos acaecido el 23 de julio del 2023. Fue un icono Panamericano.
La familia ha publicado un mensaje en Facebook que puede verse

El impacto del Dr. Contreras fue vasto y de gran alcance. Invitamos a quienes lo conocieron a compartir sus recuerdos en la sección de comentarios al final de esta página.

Los aspectos más destacados de la carrera del Dr. Contreras en la PAAO incluyen:

  • Fue Presidente de la Asociación Panamericana de Oftalmología de 1993 a 1995.
  • Ocupó tres mandatos como Director Ejecutivo entre 1985 y 1991.
  • Fue Secretario-Tesorero de la región de habla hispana durante cuatro mandatos, de 1977 a 1985.
  • Fue miembro de la Junta Directiva de la PAOF, presidió múltiples comités y encabezó campañas de Baja Visión.
El Dr. Contreras también recibió múltiples premios de la PAAO:

  • En 2007 recibió la Medalla a los Servicios Distinguidos A. Edward Maumenee.
  • En 2013, recibió la Medalla de la IAPB.
  • Más recientemente, en el 2023, recibió la Medalla Gradle a la Buena Enseñanza, que le fue entregada personalmente por el Dr. Dino Natteri, Presidente de la Sociedad Peruana de Oftalmología, en Lima.

Además, el Dr. Contreras realizó varias presentaciones Panamericanas dignas de mención:

  • Presentó la Conferencia de la AJO en 1985.
  • Presentó la Conferencia Panamericana Moacyr E. Alvaro en 1995.
  • En el 2001, dictó la Conferencia Gradle.
El Dr. Contreras no sólo fue un talentoso educador y pionero, sino también un humanitario comprometido. En reconocimiento a su importante contribución a la oftalmología y la salud pública, el Ministerio de Salud de Perú nombró al Instituto Nacional de Oftalmología (INO) «Instituto Nacional de Oftalmología ‘Dr. Francisco Contreras Campos'» en el 2017.

In Memory of Dr. Contreras

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of an iconic figure in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Francisco Contreras from Peru. The world lost a visionary and dedicated professional whose contributions to eye care have left an indelible mark on the lives of countless individuals.

Dr. Contreras was not just a renowned ophthalmologist; he was a true pioneer and a beacon of hope for those suffering from various eye ailments. Throughout his illustrious career, he consistently pushed the boundaries of medical knowledge and prevention of blindness. His passion for the pursuit of excellence and unwavering commitment to his profession inspired his peers and mentored a new generation of eye care specialists. His clinics served as a haven for patients seeking solace, reassurance, and the best possible care for their eyes.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Dr. Contreras will be remembered for his compassion and kindness. His gentle demeanor and ability to connect with patients on a personal level left an enduring impact, instilling hope and confidence in the face of adversity.

The legacy of Dr. Francisco Contreras extends far beyond his homeland. He was a respected figure within the global ophthalmological community, collaborating with colleagues worldwide to advance the understanding and treatment of preventable eye diseases.

As we bid farewell to this remarkable soul, let us take solace in the fact that Dr. Contreras’ work will continue to touch lives for generations to come. The world has lost an extraordinary ophthalmologist, a mentor, and a friend. We honor his memory and pledge to carry forward his vision of compassionate eye care for all.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Contreras’ family, friends, colleagues, and patients during this difficult time. May they find strength in the memories of his profound impact and the lives he has touched.

Rest in peace, dear Dr. Francisco Contreras.  

Paulo E.C. Dantas MD PhD (Brazil), PAAO President 2022-2025

Dr. Dino Natteri recieved the Gradle Medal for Good Teaching on behalf of Dr. Francisco Contreras from Dr. Paulo Dantas; Argentina, 2023

Dr. Contreras receives the Gradle Medal for Good Teaching from Dr. Natteri on behalf of the PAAO, Peru, 2023



Hoy partió un pionero de la Oftalmología Peruana, y digno representante del País a nivel Internacional.

Nos deja Ud. un gran legado, y es nuestro compromiso en ejemplo y en gratitud continuarlo y perpetuarlo por el bien de la oftalmología Peruana; apreciado Maestro!!

Siempre orgullosos de Ud., Dr. Francisco Contreras Campos.

Today we lost a pioneer of Peruvian Ophthalmology, and a worthy representative of the country at the international level.

You leave us a great legacy, and it is our commitment in example and gratitude to continue and perpetuate it for the good of Peruvian ophthalmology; appreciated Master!

Always proud of you, Dr. Francisco Contreras Campos.

Dr. Gustavo Avilés Calderon (Peru), President, Peruvian Society of Ophthalmology



I was deeply saddened to learn of Dr. Francisco Contreras Campo’s passing. I met him in 1988 when I was a medical student and he accepted me to come and work at the Instituto Nacional de Oftalmologia (INO). Instantly, he became my mentor and inspiration.

A pillar in ophthalmology, is the model we all aspire to. Passionate about Blindness Prevention in Peru and all the world, he has remained dedicated to this goal. A leader of the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO), His dedication to the PAAO, colleagues, and patients was limitless. He shaped the careers of thousands of ophthalmologists and touched the lives of countless patients.

His INO is the foundation of education for ophthalmic professionals in Peru and serves the spectrum of Peruvian patients. His life was dedicated to education and all patients. Charismatic, with a love of learning, he would enthusiastically attend meetings even in his 90’s.

I have been honored to know Dr. Contreras and his beautiful family. The world has lost a hero, but his memory is forever a blessing.

With my deepest sympathy and love,

Carol Karp MD (USA), PAAO President-Elect 2022-2025



What we once enjoyed and deeply admired we can never lose, for all that we admire deeply becomes part of us.

– Helen Keller

It was a true pleasure and an honor to have known Dr. Francisco Contreras for almost 40 years and to call him a friend and colleague. An exceptional international ophthalmologist, role model and teacher, Dr. Contreras’ dedication to his work was remarkable.

Dr. Contreras has been involved with the PAAO for decades. His hard work, dedication and motivation was to be admired. He was the Dr. Zimmerman PAAO society Peruvian representative, a true icon in the PAAO and renown in the field of Ophthalmology, always working tirelessly to make a difference.

All those of us who were fortunate enough to know Dr. Contreras, professionally and personally, can confirm that he has forever left an impression in our lives. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Miguel N. Burnier Jr., MD (Canada), PAAO President 2019-2022



Francisco Contreras was a giant in Ophthalmology and a true gentleman! He will always be upon us in our hearts. Francisco was very knowledgeable as I got to know early on in my career when I met him during one of his visits in Caracas when I was a resident in 1990. At the same time, he was always extremely generous and humble in so many ways. PAAO and Prevention of blindness were his true love, and we all loved him. He excelled at everything he put his mind into and inspired generations of those of us fortunate enough to follow his example.

We will miss you dear friend!

Fernando Arevalo MD (USA), PAAO President 2019-2021; PAOF Chair 2021-2024

Dr. Arevalo and Dr. Contreras

Dr. Arevalo, Dr. Contreras, Dr. Ashley Behrens (USA), and Dr. Liana Ventura (Brazil), New Orleans 2017



We recognize Dr Contreras’ dedication to pursuing excellence in public health, leadership, and blindness prevention and visual rehabilitation. Dr Contreras has left his legacy for future generations to see.

Liana & Marcelo Ventura



Dr. Francisco Contreras represents what every ophthalmologist should strive to be. He is a man who dedicated his life to teaching ophthalmology and disseminating knowledge throughout Latin America. He did so many things with boundless energy, assisting Congresses well into his 90’s. He was a wonderful family man and a great mentor to everyone around him, particularly his grandchildren. But most striking was his joy for life, a man who was always smiling and never ceased to enjoy all that life can bring. His smile and laughter will be greatly missed!

Maria H. Berrocal MD (Puerto Rico), Secretary-Treasurer 2021-2024, Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation

Dr. Silvio Lujan (Peru), Dra. Maria Berrocal (Puerto Rico), Dr. Francisco Contreras (Peru), Dr. Federico Graue-Wiechers (Mexico)



A marvelous friend and a major leader of Ophthalmology, Francisco Contreras, M.D. contributed greatly to the advance of eye care in Peru and throughout the Pan American nations. While saddened by his passing, we admire his many actions to benefit ophthalmic institutions and enhance the quality of eye care for people in the broad region of the Americas.

Bradley R. Straatsma MD JD (USA), PAAO President 1987-1989



Dr. Francisco Contreras is an outstanding example of a professional and a giant in Ophthalmology that will be inside our hearts and soul forever.

Rest in peace, Professor.

Mauricio Maia MD (Brazil), Vice Chair, 2021-2024 Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation



It is with sadness that we lose such a gifted, generous, and impactful colleague.
His contributions to Ophthalmology and to Ophthalmologists both scientifically and humanly will survive him for generations.

I am grateful to have worked with him and to have known him.
Our deepest sympathies to his family and I know he is in a better place.

William De La Peña MD (USA), Past Chair, 2012-2015 Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation



It is with a sad heart but a mind full of wonderful memories that I write this message to honor a giant friend, colleague, and human being. The word “giant” is real, as only a giant could fit the largesse of Francisco Contreras’s heart.

From the first time we met at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Interamerican Course for Clinical Ophthalmology in 1981, Francisco and I connected as he offered me a big smile and warmth and concern for my education and well-being. He always made himself available to me with an open mind and warm heart. I know that he treated hundreds of others in the same compassionate and gracious manner. I was fortunate to have been touched and influenced by this extraordinary and wonderful man. The memories are many, and the context in which they occurred as well.

His visits to the clinics at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the national and supranational meetings – the PAAO, AAO, and so many others. His long life provided all of us with so many opportunities to gain from him, I hope he also took a little bit from each one of us. Dr. Contreras has left an indelible mark upon ophthalmology and all who knew him. He embodied all the qualities of a great Pan American.

Dr. Contreras’s innumerable contributions to the field of ophthalmology will be long remembered. He left a great legacy to us all. I will remember him fondly as my mentor and my friend.

“Dear Francisco, you will always be in my memory, and I hope to emulate you as I continue to live and to practice the profession and vocation you loved so much.

Hasta la próxima, mi querido amigo. ”

Eduardo C. Alfonso MD (USA), PAAO President 2015-2017

Dr. Eduardo Alfonso (USA) with Dr. Francisco Contreras (Peru); Peru 2017



Dr. Contreras was an extraordinary person possessed of great humanitarian qualities, who dedicated his life to the highest-level treatment of patients and dedication to teaching the ophthalmologists of Latin America.

I will always remember him for his personal kindness and for his love of our profession. He radiated these qualities to whomever he met. Moreover, his greatness and many accomplishments were accompanied by extreme modesty. His life has been an example for us all to emulate.

May his memory be a blessing to all of us.

Mark J. Mannis MD (USA), PAAO President 2011-2013

Dr. Mark Mannis, Dr. Contreras, Dr. Juan Batlle (Dominican Republic); Brazil 2013



The PAAO has lost one very important pillar.

We will always remember him.

Enrique Graue-Wiechers MD (Mexico), PAAO President 2005-2007

Dr. Juan Verdaguer (Chile), Dr. Enrique Graue Wiechers (Mexico), Dr. Contreras, Dr. Bronwyn Bateman (USA); Chicago 2014



I am sad to have lost my wonderful friend Francisco Contreras. Peru, Latin America, and the world is a better place as a result of Francisco’s ideas and generous efforts in ophthalmology.

I am proud to be part of the PAAO Bateman, Contreras, Cortez (BCC) Committee. Many years ago, Francisco, Rafael Cortez and I were guests of the Honduran Ophthalmological Society courtesy of Dra. Doris Alvarado. Francisco came up with a proposal to train young ophthalmologists from Honduras in the U.S. Fortunately, Dr. Eddie Alfonso supported Francisco’s idea and he has graciously trained multiple young Honduran ophthalmologists on behalf of our BCC committee at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. A young Nicaraguan is the next. Fortunately, Dr. Tono Roca, Francisco’s son-in-law, is now a member of the BCC committee and we look forward to continuing the program indefinitely.

I will miss Francisco and his generous heart forever.

J. Bronwyn Bateman MD (USA), PAAO President 2003-2005

Dr. Bronwyn Bateman (USA) with Dr. Contreras; Chile 2015

Dr. José Antonio Roca (Peru), Dr. Bronwyn Bateman (USA), Dr. Rafael Cortez (Venezuela) with Dr. Contreras (seated); Peru 2022



The great Francisco Contreras will always be in our heart and mind. A superb Ophthalmologist and a master in Ocular Pathology who has educated many generations in all of Latin America.

He was also a dear friend to all of us and an example of what a real Professor should do in the fight against blindness and the improvement of access to the good medicine as a humanitarian ophthalmologist.

Rubens Belfort Jr. MD (Brazil), PAAO President 2001-2003; PAOF Chair 2006-2009

Dr. Rubens Belfort Jr. (Brazil), Dr. Cristian Luco (Chile), Dr. Contreras; San Francisco 2009



Francisco Contreras was a giant in the history of Pan-American ophthalmology. His nickname, Paco, a common nickname for Francisco, is thought to derive from an abbreviation of Pater Comunitatis, “Father of the Community,” the title given to San Francisco de Asis, founder of the Franciscan religious order.

Dr. Contreras was truly a father of the community in all that he did to advance Pan-American ophthalmology and the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology. Serving in many official capacities for the PAAO over many years and also as an unofficial ambassador of kindness and friendship to legions of ophthalmologists in the Americas and beyond, Dr. Contreras was a revered figure to so many.

My spouse, Carolyn, and I had the great fortune to know Dr. Contreras for decades through the PAAO and our mutual interest in glaucoma. He was always warm and welcoming to us and for many years was accompanied to meetings by his daughter Cecelia and late daughter Lilly. They had the same warm and outgoing spirit as their father, and we always looked forward to visiting with them.

Dr. Contreras seemed ageless and his loss creates a sudden void in our hearts. We send our deepest-felt condolences to his family, close friends and colleagues. While gone from our lives, he will be remembered with the greatest admiration and fondness.

Paul R. Lichter MD (USA), PAAO President 1999-2001



Querida Familia Contreras:

Mis sinceras condolencias por el sensible fallecimiento del maestro y profesor Francisco Contreras, past Presidente de la Asociación Panamericana de Oftalmología, que sin duda descansa en paz con su camino ya realizado dejando un tremendo legado en lo humano y profesional en la prevención de la ceguera. Es una pérdida irreparable de un gran maestro, pero sobre todo de un gran amigo siempre alegre, amable y generoso al compartir sus conocimientos y dispuesto a apoyar cualquier iniciativa que ayude a la población más vulnerable.

Fue un honor haber compartido con él su alegría en múltiples congresos, lo que perdurara en mis pensamientos y de muchos oftalmólogos latinoamericanos, esperando que su familia encuentren un rápido consuelo ante su partida. Un abrazo afectuoso a toda su familia.

Dr. Fernando Barría von B. (Chile), PAAO Prevention of Blindness Committee

Dear Contreras Family: My sincere condolences for the passing of our teacher and professor Francisco Contreras, past President of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, who undoubtedly rests in peace with his path already completed, leaving a tremendous legacy in the human and professional aspects of blindness prevention. It is an irreparable loss of a great teacher, but above all of a great friend always cheerful, kind and generous in sharing his knowledge and willing to support any initiative that helps the most vulnerable population.

It was an honor to have shared with him his joy in multiple congresses, which will remain in my thoughts and those of many Latin American ophthalmologists, hoping that his family will find a quick consolation for his departure. A warm embrace to all his family.

Dr. Fernando Barría (Chile), Dr. Rene Kant Vargas Tank (Chile) (standing), Juan Batlle (Dominican Republic), Dr. Contreras, Dr. Juan Verdaguer (Chile); Chile 2015



A leader, teacher and friend, we will continue to be marked by his great example, his vocation to serve the community and his generosity to his colleagues and students, which is why he will remain among us.

Rest in Peace

Dr. Francisco Martinez Castro (Mexico), PAAO Executive Director 1995-2001, Regional Chair for IAPB Latin America

Dr. Francisco Martinez Castro (Mexico), Dr. Claudia Zuluaga (Colombia), Dr. Contreras, and Dr. Juan Carlos Silva (Colombia)



Ophthalmology has lost one of its senior treasures. Francisco Contreras was a leader, a charmer, a delight to be with, and a person who was critical in the enhancement of education and care in Peru. He was always a gentleman who was always concerned about his friends, his family, and his colleagues. I have spent many hours with Francisco, particularly at the PAAO, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an occasional other international meeting. His passing is a loss to Peruvian and world ophthalmology. My best to his family and to all his many friends.

Bruce E. Spivey MD (USA), Secretary-Treasurer, Ophthalmology Foundation



Querida familia Contreras: Describir lo que el Dr. Francisco Contreras significó, no sólo para mi, si no para muchas personas, es una difícil tarea, pues se superponen muchas facetas. El maestro, el doctor, el amigo, el aprediz que siempre estaba en primera fila para escuchar atentamente…Esa sonrisa, la palabra de apoyo, nunca lo oí hablar mal de nadie… Quizá una palabra lo describe, GIGANTE, pero ante todo, un ser humano que dejará un huella difícil de emular, y que el mundo es mejor, gracias a el. Estoy convencido de que el no necesita nuestras oraciones, pues alguien así está directamente en la presencia de Dios. Las oraciones son para ustedes, su familia y todos nosotros sus amigos, quienes las necesitamos para encontrar el consuelo de su irreparable pérdida, y para que en lo poco o lo mucho que podamos imitarlo, honremos con ello su legado.

Van Charles Lansingh MD (Mexico), Help Me See Foundation

Dear Contreras family: To describe what Dr. Francisco Contreras meant, not only for me, but for many people, is a difficult task, because many facets overlap. The teacher, the doctor, the friend, the apprentice who was always in the front row to listen attentively… That smile, the supportive word, I never heard him speak ill of anyone…. Perhaps one word describes him, GIANT, but above all, a human being who will leave a mark difficult to emulate, and that the world is better, thanks to him. I am convinced that he does not need our prayers, for such a person is directly in the presence of God. Prayers are for you, his family and all of us, his friends, who need them to find comfort in his irreparable loss, and that as little or as much as we can emulate him, we will honor his legacy.



Francisco Contreras was a great friend. I first got to know him well during a Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Prevention of Blindness meeting in Lima in 1985. He was always so kind and generous. Over the years we met often at a multitude of international meetings; AAO, PAHO, WHO, IAPB, ICO, PAAO. Francisco seemed to be everywhere and always it was a great pleasure to meet him and to catch up. His leadership in Peru and throughout Latin America in providing and improving eye care for everyone is outstanding. He embodied the motto Accessible, Appropriate and Affordable. He has left an outstanding and enduring legacy and we are all the poorer for his passing.

Hugh R Taylor, MD (Australia), Melbourne Laureate Professor Emeritus, Past-President, International Council of Ophthalmology



Prof. Dr. Francisco Contreras,

Se nos va uno de los grandes maestros de la Oftalmologia.

Con gran pesar recibimos la noticia del fallecimiento del Prof. Dr. Francisco Contreras, expresidente de la PAAO. Excepcional profesional y gran persona, a quien tuvimos el honor de conocer y disfrutar de sus valiosos conocimientos y también de su amistad.

Desde el Paraguay enviamos nuestras sentidas condolencias a su familia y a la comunidad oftalmológica peruana.
Paz en tu tumba querido Profesor.

Dr. Miriam R. Cano (Paraguay), PAAO Board of Directors 2022-2025

Prof. Dr. Francisco Contreras, One of the great masters of Ophthalmology has passed away. It was with great sorrow that we received the news of the death of Prof. Dr. Francisco Contreras, former president of the PAAO. Exceptional professional and great person, whom we had the honor of knowing and enjoying his valuable knowledge and friendship. From Paraguay we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and the Peruvian ophthalmologic community. Peace in your grave dear Professor.





Con pesar, comunicamos el fallecimiento del Dr Francisco Contreras; colega y amigo. Con él compartimos inquietudes y formamos junto al Prof Dr Newton Kara Jose, la Sociedad Panamericana de Ceguera. A través de ella, con su consolidado prestigio, obtuvimos el apoyo de generosas Fundaciones: Hellen Keller I. Lyons I, con las cuales se implementó el ambicioso Programa de Prevención de Ceguera por Catarata. Su señorío, prestigio e incansable trabajo logró replicar en muchos países de Latinoamérica esta Asociación; formando líderes que llevaron a la práctica estos Programas. Fue un generoso amigo de todos los que lo solicitamos e importante apoyo en todos los emprendimientos educativos en nuestros Países; donde siempre estaba presente. Lo recordaremos siempre y quedará entre nosotros por sus obras y su ejemplo. Fuerte abrazo a toda su familia.

 Alicia Martínez Márquez (Uruguay)

With great sorrow, we receive the news of the death of Dr Francisco Contreras; colleague and friend. With him we shared concerns and formed, together with Prof. Dr Newton Kara Jose, the Pan-American Society of Blindness. Through it, with its consolidated prestige, we obtained the support of generous Foundations like Hellen Keller, Lyons, with which the ambitious Cataract Free Zone Program was implemented. His mentorship, prestige and tireless work managed to replicate this program in many Latin American countries; forming leaders who put these programs into practice. He was a generous friend to all of us and an important support in all educational endeavors in our countries, where he was always present. We will always remember him and he will remain among us for his works and his example. Strong embrace to all his family.



I worked closely with Dr. Contreras for many years, as he was Secretary-Treasurer when I started with the Pan-American, then in his capacity as Executive Director, then President. I had the honor to be at the renaming of the Instituto Nacional de Oftalmología «Dr. Francisco Contreras Campos» at which Dr. Contreras received much deserved recognition. He was a philanthropist, and altruist and a true gentleman.

 Teresa J. Bradshaw (USA), PAAO/PAOF Executive Director 1985-present

INO renamed, Lima, Peru 2017

Teresa Bradshaw, Dr. Contreras and Mapy Padilla; Peru 2017



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