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Happy Birthday Cataract IOL!

March 20, 2009


According to the Cataract Outsourcing Blog, yesterday was the 57th anniversary of the first IntraOcular Lens (IOL) implanted in the United States after cataract surgery:

"…a patient in Philadelphia received the first plastic lens for use after cataract surgery. The lens was made of Plexiglas, of a kind called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). British surgeon Harold Ridley found during World War II that PMMA, then used to make aircraft canopies, didn’t harm the eyes of pilots when the canopies shattered. Eventual widespread use of the lenses meant that people didn’t have to wear heavy cataract glasses or thick contact lenses after cataract surgery. Surgeons eventually stopped using these lenses because of complications. Then Dutch surgeons redesigned Ridley’s original lens implant, making it smaller, lighter and safer."


A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens.  Cataract surgery removes this lens, leaving the eye without a lens, called aphakia.  Prior to the introduction of the IOL, patients had to wear thick, "coke bottle", aphakic glasses to see.  


IOLs have certainly progressed over the years.   Original IOLs required a large 7 to 8 mm incision to insert,   several stitches were required and a large amount of astigmatism was induced.  Foldable IOLs reduced this incision to 3 mm, requiring no stitches and astigmatism neutral incisions.

The latest IOL advances have been Multifocal and Toric IOLs.  The Multifocal IOL allows the patient to see both distance and near without glasses while the Toric IOL allows for excellent distance vision without glasses in those patients with a large amount of pre-operative astigmatism.


Thank you Sir Harold Ridley!!

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