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Demystifying Eye Health Evolution of Cataract Surgery II

Dr. Harold Ridley was an eye surgeon in London during World War II, who helped treat bomber and fighter pilots during the air war over Europe. The pilots suffered eye wounds as shards of plexiglass would lodge into the eye after bullets shattered canopies of the aircraft. He made an observation that the material did not react in the eye and was not rejected by the body. 

Michael Willman, DO, CarlinVision

With the help of the Rayner company, he developed the first intraocular lens implant. The first successful surgery to replace a cataractous lens with a prosthetic lens was performed on November 29, 1950. Wider acceptance of lens implants became the gold standard in the 1980’s with the improvement in surgical techniques. The Rayner company still produces intraocular lenses of very high quality. CarlinVision uses many of these lenses every week for the care of our patients.

Cataracts were still removed in one piece through a large incision on the eyeball until the mid-1990’s when a new technique, phacoemulsification, for cataract surgery gained widespread acceptance. This new technique was first introduced in 1967 by Dr. Charles Kelman, an American Ophthalmologist. He was inspired by a trip to his dentist who used a similar ultrasonic device to remove a cavity from his own mouth. This technique allowed for cataracts to be removed through a very small incision. No longer did the patient have to spend weeks lying in bed or in the hospital. Other side effects from surgery such as pain, infection, high astigmatism, and retinal detachments were greatly reduced. Today, small incision phacoemulsification with a foldable intraocular lens implant is the gold standard for cataract surgery.

From antiquity to the modern day for over 4500 years, many physicians have contributed to the advancement of cataract surgery. The state of the art for cataract surgery involves many technologies and techniques. At CarlinVision we employ the latest advances to give our patients the best vision possible. Current technology available at our practice includes: small-incision phacoemulsification to remove a cataract, femtosecond assisted laser cataract surgery with the LenSx® laser and intraocular lenses to correct distance and near vision along with astigmatism correction.