Laszlo Z. Bito, Scientist, Novelist and Philanthropist, Dies at 87

While in the United States researching a cure for glaucoma, he also became an author and an outspoken critic of authoritarianism in Hungary.

According to his website’s biographical chronology, Bito was born in Budapest in 1934, and he and his family were expelled from the city in 1951 by the Hungarian communist administration.

After being exiled, he finally arrived at the city of Komlo, where he was compelled to work in the coal mines. When a local insurrection against such forced labour failed, he fled to Austria in a position of leadership. In 1956, he applied for and was given refuge in the United States.

Career of Laszlo Z. Bito

Bito spent his career studying the role prostaglandins (PGs) play in the accumulation of fluid in the eyes of glaucoma patients. The pressure from this fluid on the eye can be enough to cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, which can then result in total blindness.

Bito and coworkers found that PGs reduce intraocular eye pressure and explained that this was due to “some very basic process similar to all animals [examined]” in a report published in 1982. Therefore, it stands to reason that PGs reduce blood pressure in the human eye.

who markets the medicine under the brand name Xalatan, Bito’s research into prostaglandins was important in the creation of the eyedrop used to treat glaucoma. According to the Times, after the drug was patented in 1997, millions of dollars in royalties were split between Columbia University and Bito.

As a result of Bito’s fortune, he was able to support several artistic endeavours, including radio stations and the music department at Bard College.

Prize for Vision Research in 2013

The Helen Keller Foundation awarded him the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research in 2013 for his work on a wide range of topics related to the biology of the eye, including its chemical composition and the dynamics of its microenvironment.

Carino and Bito’s two sons from a previous marriage are all he leaves behind.