A Brief History of IOL Materials
The development and use of intraocular lenses has been a major ophthalmic success story. Here, we describe some of the key contributions and the materials that revolutionized cataract treatment.
Florian Kretz, Sibylle Scholtz, Gerd Auffarth |
At a Glance
- Cataract surgery stretches back three thousand years
- Harold Ridley introduced the modern era in 1949, with an intraocular lens made from poly(methyl methacrylate)
- Foldable IOLs, requiring much smaller incisions, came to dominate, especially silicone IOLs in the 1980s
- Patients in the developing world are often denied these superior IOLs on grounds of cost
Cataract surgery, the most commonly performed surgical technique in the world today, has an illustrious history. The earliest example, cataract “couching”, was first reported around three thousand years ago in India in their ancient text, the Mahabharata. Couching is a procedure that should be consigned to historical textbooks: the pressing down of cloudy lenses into the vitreous with a thorn or a needle. It leaves the patient aphakic (but with some visual function) requiring a powerfully positive prescription lens to compensate. While unthinkable in most part of the world, it still occurs today in some rural regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is performed by local healers rather than by ophthalmologists.
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