​Tributes poured in yesterday to the man widely known as the father of ophthalmology in Singapore.

Professor Arthur Lim died, aged 80 years old.

Hours after his death, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan – a trained ophthalmologist who was once taught by Prof Lim – paid his respects in a 2am Facebook post yesterday, saying: “I will never be able to thank him enough for all that he gave us so generously.”

A fellow former student, Dr Lee Hung Ming, medical director of Parkway Eye Centre at Gleneagles Hospital, said Prof Lim had “great passion”, adding: “A lot of us have passion, but he could turn his visions into reality. That was the distinguishing factor.”

Prof Lim was the founding medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). He also helped establish the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the National University Hospital’s ophthalmology department.

Among his contributions to ophthalmology are more than 20 books, including an ophthalmology atlas providing a guide to common eye diseases.

This book, recalled Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, was “like the ‘Bible’” for young ophthalmologists in training.

“In medical school, we all read his books,” added Dr Lee. “Our first contact with ophthalmology was all through his books.”

Besides being a top eye surgeon, Prof Lim was also an avid art collector, with more than 800 works in his collection.

In January, SNEC and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School set up a $5 million professorship in his honour.

Prof Lim also felt strongly about the education of young doctors, and helped raise funds to set up eye centres in several Chinese cities.

He also performed pro bono operations there, and shared his expertise as a surgeon.

Dr Lam said that Prof Lim’s example was an inspiration to him and a “major factor” in his decision to specialise in ophthalmology.

He added: “I remember him not just as an eminent eye surgeon but also a philanthropist, who helped to raise funds to benefit the less privileged in society.”