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Marie-José Tassignon

The Power List 2021 – Power List

Past Chief and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at The Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium

What is your proudest professional achievement? 

There are different aspects to address in that question. What I consider for myself to be an important achievement is having changed the classical concepts of cataract surgery by introducing an IOL that can be implanted in the eye under full surgeon control, regarding centration and full control over the capsule bag resulting in posterior capsule opacification eradication. This technique is called the “bag-in-the-lens.” Further on this line of developments, a very rewarding feeling was to use this technique in children and babies with results that largely exceed the expectations, compared with those obtained with the classical lens-in-the bag implantation techniques. As a consequence of the routine use of this technique in children, we unraveled a new cause of congenital cataract due to a dysgenesis of the anterior interface. Aside from this, having been chosen as cataract surgeon of the Belgian King and Queen is most rewarding.

Outside of ophthalmology, what makes you happy?

As a teenager, fashion or medicine were my two choices in professional orientation. I finally choose medicine, but I remain very attracted to fashion, fabrics, and the design of jewels. Once the choice of medicine was made, I quickly realized the numerous unsolved questions and unmet needs. However, it takes many years to develop new ideas from concept to commercially available devices. The need to collaborate with a large diversity of collateral professions allowed me to reach my goals. This was a most enjoyable experience next to my clinical career. I consider the “inventor” part of my career to be my most enjoyable hobby.

Why is it important to celebrate women in the field with this list?

I am not necessarily in favor of exclusively highlighting women in the field of medicine or more specifically, ophthalmology. However, if I can convince women to recognize, believe, and develop their talents in different fields of our profession, this would be a great achievement. My most important advice would be to read and meet the experts they consider to be role models in their own career.

Part of the Power List 2021

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One hundred reasons to celebrate women in ophthalmology

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