Lives of the fellows

Thomas Keith Selfe Lyle

b.26 December 1903 d.9 May 1987
CBE(1949) K St John(1960) BA Cantab(1926) LMSSA(1928) MB BChir(1930) MRCP(1930) FRCS(1932) MA MChir(1933) MD(1935) FRCP(1963)

Keith Lyle was born at Bromley, Kent, the son of an ophthalmic surgeon and physiologist, Herbert Willoughby Lyle, who was dean of King’s College Hospital medical school for 20 years and also a JP. His mother Elizabeth was the daughter of James Dawking who was in the shipping industry. He was educated by a private tutor until he entered Dulwich College, where he gained an exhibition scholarship to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. After taking the natural science tripos, parts I and II, he proceeded to King’s College Hospital in 1926 with a Burney Yeo scholarship and was later awarded the Todd prize for clinical medicine. He took an active part in the life of the medical school and played rugby football in the first fifteen.

After appointments in the neurological department at King’s he went to the Royal Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital in 1934 as house surgeon, which formed his interest in this subject. He later became surgeon to Moorfields Eye Hospital, and ophthalmic surgeon to King’s College Hospital and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases.

Keith Lyle’s clear thinking, enthusiasm and organizing ability, made him a fine teacher and lecturer. As a teacher, his registrars and house surgeons much appreciated his instruction in surgical technique and the opportunities he gave them for personal experience, and valued his advice. As a lecturer, he would put his thesis audibly and clearly, talking rather than reading to his audience. His penetrating analysis of the problems of strabismus and binocular vision led to him being regarded as an international authority on the subject.

During the second world war Keith Lyle served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and reached the rank of air commodore, being mentioned in despatches. After the war he continued as civilian consultant to the RAF and the Department of Civil Aviation. His distinguished service was recognized by his being appointed CBE in 1949.

Keith gave much devoted service to the Order of St John of Jerusalem and became a knight grand cross of the Order in 1981, and a knight of the Holy Sepulchre. He spent much effort in maintaining the excellence of the ophthalmic hospital in Jerusalem.

Over very many years he also showed a keen interest in the Society of Apothecaries of London. He was elected a member of the Court in 1954 and was Master from 1962-63. A fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, he was a former president of the united services section and a vice-president of the ophthalmic section. He was also a former president of the British Orthoptic Board, and the high regard in which orthoptists are held in this country owes much to his concern with its work and organization. He examined for the English and Edinburgh fellowships, and many other boards, and was known to be a fair, if exacting, examiner.

Keith Lyle was honoured by many learned societies, both at home and abroad. He was awarded the Doyne medal in 1953, the Nettleship medal in 1959 and the Richardson cross medal in 1972.

He was co-author, with Sylvia Jackson, of Practical Orthoptics in the treatment of squint, London, H K Lewis & Co, 1937, which ran into several editions; co-editor of May and Worth's diseases of the eye, London, Bailliere,Tindall & Cox, 11th ed.1954 and 12th ed.1959, and also co-editor of his father’s book Applied Physiology of the eye, London, Bailliere,Tindall & Cox, 1958. He published numerous articles in journals of ophthalmology.

Keith Lyle married Jane Maxwell, daughter of an Army officer, in 1949 and they had three daughters and a son. His friends much appreciated the warm hospitality of his charming wife and family at his delightful home at Henley-on-Thames.

All that Keith Lyle did was done with energy and enthusiasm. He did everything ‘at the double’, whether it was catching a train or walking through London. He was an excellent tennis and squash player, a keen horseman, and a member of a ski club.

His wife and family survived him.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[med. J., 1987,294,1698; King's Gazette, Spring 1969,48(1)8-9]

(Volume VIII, page 295)

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