The world-famous ophthalmologist

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

The 150th birth anniversary of Professor Doctor Claudio Caetana Antonio Julio Raimundo da Gama Pinto was celebrated on 30 April 2003. The son of Francisco Salvador Zeferino Pinto and Mariana Tereza da Gama, both from Cotula in Saligao, Dr. Claudio da Gama Pinto was born on 30 April 1853.

An internationally acclaimed ophthalmologist, Dr. Claudio da Gama Pinto was described by Dr. Jose Cordeiro Blanco from Portugal thus: “He was one of the leading figures among the ophthalmologists of his time and the most eminent Portuguese ophthalmologist of all times.”

Dr Claudio Gama Pinto : Saligao SerenadeAlthough he left Goa for Portugal at the age of 19, the Goan ophthalmologist Dr. Gama Pinto evinced keen interest in the affairs of his village, and through letters to his loved ones in Saligao, kept abreast of the happenings and goings-on in the parish. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of Mae de Deus Church in 1923, Dr. Gama Pinto advised the parishioners not to waste money on fireworks but to establish a fund for the welfare of the sick and poor. His advice was finally heeded fifty years later, when the Mae de Deus Aged Home, a memorial of the centenary of the Saligao Church, became a reality in Cotula on 26 November 1973. The home was blessed and inaugurated by another great son of Saligao, Archbishop Eugene D’Souza. Another such home came up in Dr Gama Pinto’s neighbourhood later on.

At the time of the laying of the corner stone of the new Saligao Church on 7 February 1867, young Claudio gave his first speech. He was then barely 14 years of age. His father, Salvador Pinto, had worked almost single-handedly to give the village one of the most beautiful churches of Goa, of which every son and daughter of Saligao may be justly proud.

Dr. Gama Pinto studied ophthalmology in Paris and Vienna as well as at Heidelberg University in Germany. In 1880 he was appointed assistant of ophthalmology at Heidelberg University and continued teaching there for five years. In 1886 he published his thesis for professorship titled “A historico pathologica study on the occurrence of kariokynesis in the inflamed conjectiva in men”, and “On the intraocular tumours in retina”.

In 1888, the Portuguese government invited Dr. Claudio Gama Pinto to take charge as director-professor of the Instituto de Oftalmologia de Lisboa, which he accepted. In 1911, after the University of Lisbon was instituted he was appointed professor of the Faculty of Medicine, where he taught ophthalmology until March 1929. Two months after his retirement, the Instituto de Oftalmologia de Lisboa was renamed by the Republican Government as Instituto de Oftalmologia Gama Pinto.

Dr. Gama Pinto desired that the youth of Saligao should channelise their talents and energy towards constructive and fruitful activity. A lover of trees and plants, he requested his family to send him seeds and plants from Saligao. He planted them in his orchard in Lisbon and distributed the flowers and fruits to the personnel of his Institute.

Trusting in Mae de Deus (one of the corridors of the Institute is dedicated to her), Dr. Gama Pinto selflessly committed himself to the service of the sick and poor as well as the aristocracy in his branch of medical science. The celebrated Goan ophthalmologist Dr Gama Pinto passed away in Lisbon on 26 July 1945, at the age of 92.

4 comments on The world-famous ophthalmologist

  • WEL


    I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX(dexamethasone) drops by ALCON LABS.

    Two days later I was BLIND

    Use Google and enter EPOCRATES MAXIDEX to verify

  • Richard Savio de Sousa

    A true person to look up to. I am 17, and from Moira paternally and Guirim-Sangolda maternally – though have relations from Saligao. For quite a few years now I’ve wanted to study ophthalmology and this insight into Dr. Gama Pinto’s life is truly interesting and I can see a lot of myself in him; including his love of trees and plants. Let us hope that the youth of Saligao, and of Goa, live out his message and channel their talents constructively.

  • Bayan

    my father is 68,he has Diabet for about 20 years;now there is no vision in his eyes & he follows trtements withou any could you do me a favour & show me the way to his treatment please?if there is any solution abroad please let me know(i’m from Syria).
    if you send me your email adress i’ll send you his medicin file.

  • Naiera Fulgado

    I am very proud to read your blog about my great grand uncle Dr Claudio Gama Pinto. My grandmother Ema Gama Pinto was his neice and was born in the same house in Coutla as were my mother, aunt and uncles


    Naiera Fulgado

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