James F. Collins, an ophthalmologist who served the Long Island community for nearly 40 years at the Center for Eye Care and Optical in West Islip, which he founded and served as executive director, has died.
Collins was 68 and died of pancreatic cancer July 9 at his Medford home.
Born March 28, 1949, in Boston, he graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1970 and and Tufts University Medical School in 1974. Collins is remembered as a devoted and caring professional who saved or improved the sight of countless people, and as an innovator in his field, said his son James Collins III.
His son said his father’s greatest legacy is the family he built. He cherishes memories of father-son trips the two took and his dad teaching him to ski or play the drums.
“He was the best,” Collins, of Los Angeles, said. “The kind of guy who if you had a question or a problem he dropped everything to help you out; he was so devoted to his family, we meant everything to him.”
The elder Collins’ “pioneering” vision for the Center for Eye Care and Optical resulted in one of the first medical practices on Long Island combining the fields of ophthalmology, optometry and opticianry, his son said.
Collins was also an author, having written the eye care book “Your Eyes: An Owner’s Guide,” and edited/authored the medical reference books “Handbook of Clinical Ophthalmology” and “The Ophthalmic Desk Reference,” Collins said.
“Unceasingly” devoted to health care and the improvement of his field, Collins was a volunteer at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Northport, working as a clinical instructor for doctors in training, his son said.
His work included academic positions at Stony Brook University Medical Center and the Schepens Eye Research Institute, affiliated with Harvard University, the family said.
He was board certified in 1978 and was a proud member of many respected medical societies, including the American College of Surgeons, his son said.
Collins was founder and president of Optimyst Systems LLC, a research and development company focused on the design of an eye medication delivery system that emits a fine mist in place of eyedrops, his son said.
“Through his medical practice he helped so many people,” the younger Collins said. “He was an amazing person for the practice he built, his optical business, he was a very well-respected surgeon; I really respect him for that,” Collins said.
He was married for 38 years to his wife, Regina. He also has a daughter, Allison Collins, who also lives in Medford.
Services were private.