Peter Ambrose Gardiner

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 11 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1160

Ophthalmologist who developed a vision test for children and who wrote frankly about his lifestyle

Peter Gardiner once wrote that his lifestyle so disgusted the medical establishment and increased managers' costs that he was on a hit list. In a frank and unrepentant anecdotal report published in the BMJ just after his 81st birthday he encouraged “all those who are worried by their lifestyle not to despair” (BMJ 1994;309:1709-10). “My diet has always included generous amounts of meat, butter, eggs, fried foods, chips, cheese,” he wrote. “I have always drunk plenty of alcohol,” he added. But perhaps his trademark was the cigarette and holder. He described himself as “for 60 years a heavy smoker of cigarettes—for 50 years always with a holder. The amount of tar on the cleaner has shown what my lungs have been spared.”

After school at Westminster and medical training at Guy's Hospital, Peter specialised in ophthalmology, proceeding to an MD in London with research into myopia in 1960. During the second world war he served in the Royal Air Force and was posted to Iceland as a squadron leader.

Embedded Image

Back in civilian life he was appointed ophthalmic surgeon at Barnet General Hospital and research ophthalmologist at Guy's, where he evolved the Guy's colour vision test and later became consultant emeritus in ophthalmology.

For many years he was a chief clinical assistant at Moorfields Eye Hospital in High Holborn, but his favourite work was caring for disabled children as ophthalmologist to the now defunct Inner London Education Authority. He co-founded the eye group of the Spastics Society (now Scope) with Ronnie MacKeith and Mary Sheridan, and will be remembered in conjunction with the latter for the universally used Sheridan-Gardiner test for young children.

Peter produced the first edition of the BMJ's first ABC book, the ABC of Ophthalmology, which was translated into several languages.

He retired to Woodbridge in Suffolk in 1978, where he kept up a great practical interest in gardening until his last year.

Predeceased by his wife, Bridget, he leaves three children and four grandchildren.

Peter Ambrose Gardiner, consultant emeritus in ophthalmology Guy's Hospital, London, and former consultant Barnet General Hospital and to the Inner London Education Authority; b 1913; q Guy's Hospital 1937; DOMS, MD; died from heart failure and old age on 4 February 2002.

[Gordon Catford]

View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial