After graduating in medicine in Munich, Dr. Stickler emigrated in 1951 to the USA. He worked for many years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where he saw a 12-year-old boy with bony enlargement of several joints and severe nearsightedness. The boy's mother was blind. Stickler then discovered that there were other members of the family with similar features. The first family member known to be affected had been seen by Dr. Charles Mayo in 1887. Sticker studied the family and in 1965 with colleagues described it in 5 generations of this family.
Dr. Stickler did not name the syndrome after himself, as others have since done. Stickler and his colleagues called it hereditary progressive arthro-ophthalmopathy.