Dr. Jay Leon Helfgott, 66, an opthalmologist in private practice here since 1947 who had served as an eye specialist for D.C. public schools in the late 1940s and early 1950s, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at the Washington Hospital Center.

Dr. Helfgott was a member of the senior advisory staff in the Department of Opthalmology at the Washington Hospital Center, and a member of the staffs of Children's, George Washington University and Sibley Memorial Hospitals here. He also had served on the staff of Episcopal Eye and Ear Hospital, a predecessor of the Washington Hospital Center.

In 1949, he was appointed to the long-vacant post of eye specialist for D.C. public schools and served in that position for several years.

Born in Baltimore, Dr. Helfgott lived in Sioux City, Iowa, before moving here with his family in the early 1920s. He graduated from old Central High School here and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1937. He did graduate work and studied for a year at what is now the Armed Forces Institue of Pathology before earning a medical degree from George Washington University in 1942. He interned at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago before entering the Army Medical Corps in 1943.

After serving in World War II as a Medical Corps captain in North Africa and Italy and earning a Bronze Star, Dr. Helfgott returned here and served at old Gallinger Hospital before establishing a private practice. In recent years, he had been in practice with a son, Dr. Maxwell A. Helfgott, also an opthalmologist.

Dr. Helfgott was a fellow of the American Academy of Opthalmology and a member of the American Board of Opthalmology.

He lived in Chevy Chase and was a member of Woodmont Country Club in Rockville.

His marriage to Isidora Lanari Helfgott ended in Divorce.

Besides his son, of Bethesda, survivors include another son, Gerald, of Chevy Chase, and a grandson.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions in his name to the Washington Hospital Center.