Subscribe to Newsletter
Subspecialties Cornea / Ocular Surface, Business and Innovation, Education and Training

A Win for Corneal Visionaries

Launched in 2006 and supported by the World Health Organization’s “Vision 2020 – The Right to Sight” program, the António Champalimaud Vision Award is the largest award of its kind in the world. Boasting an €1,000,000 prize, the achievement celebrates significant contributions to ophthalmology, including far-reaching science and work in the fight against blindness and visual impairment. The 2022 award recognises two key figures in ophthalmic medicine, Gerrit Melles and Claes Dohlman, both of whom have revolutionized the field of vision.

Claes Dohlman

Now 100 years old, Claes Dohlman is internationally recognized as the “father of modern corneal science” and his work is considered classic literature on corneal biology. Having trained over 200 cornea specialists, his contributions to the field of ophthalmology are indispensable. Over the course of his seven-decade career, Dohlman has spearheaded corneal physiology investigations and laid the foundations for clinical practice in dry eye disease, corneal burns, wound healing, corneal transplantation, and keratoprosthesis.

Alongside finding the first cornea subspecialty clinic in the world (the Massachusetts Eye and Ear clinic), Dohlman’s most notable contribution to the field of ophthalmology is the Boston keratoprosthesis (KPro). Having undergone continuous design innovations since its FDA approval in 1992, the Boston KPro is now the most commonly used corneal prosthesis in the world, restoring the sight of more than 11,000 patients in 66 countries (1). Now having also received a European Conformity (CE) mark, the device has been made reimbursable across the European market and is even more accessible.

Reza Dana, Dohlman’s successor at Mass Eye and Ear, has said of the Champalimaud Vision award, “Dohlman’s indelible contributions to the field of cornea science are evident in his foundational research, which is still highly utilized today in scientific discovery and patient care (2).”

Gerrit Melles

Although Gerrit Melles has not yet been in the ophthalmic field as long as Dohlman, his contributions to ophthalmic research are no less pivotal. As stated by Alan R. Morse, “Melles has revolutionized the field of corneal transplantation and his research is opening new pathways to help people with vision loss lead full and productive lives (3).”

Noticing that there was much to improve in the field of corneal transplantation, Melles made it his mission to treat corneal disorders with minimally invasive techniques that wouldn’t damage the ocular surface. Prior approaches to treating corneal disease involved penetrating keratoplasty – removing healthy layers of the cornea alongside diseased layers – that often resulted in unpredictable and unsatisfying visual outcomes. By replacing only the back of the cornea, Melles was able to retain the healthy layers of the cornea while treating the disease.

Melles has since gone on to invent several other advanced lamellar keratoplasty techniques, including Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty and Bowman layer transplantation. He has also developed surgical instruments and devices, such as the SurgiCube®, that can be used to execute these techniques.

By developing a range of groundbreaking techniques and technologies, Dohlman and Melles have accelerated the path to treating corneal disease. Their combined research has helped establish a deeper understanding of the cornea and the possibility of a more consistent and cost-effective approach to corneal surgery and transplantation. It goes without saying that the award is well deserved.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Ophthalmologist and its sponsors.

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

  1. JW Miller, “The Boston KPro: Revolutionized the Field of Corneal Transplantation” (2022). Available at:
  2. M Campbell, “Dohlman Receives Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award” (2022). Available at:
  3. Lighthouse Guild, “2020 Bressler Prize Awarded to Dr. Gerrit Melles for Outstanding Accomplishments in Vision Science” (2020). Available at:
About the Author
Sarah Healey

Communicating stories in a way that is accessible to all was one of the focal points of my Creative Writing degree. Although writing magical realism is a fun endeavor (and one I still dabble in), getting to the heart of human stories has always been the driving motivator behind my writing. At Texere, I am able to connect with the people behind scientific breakthroughs and share their stories in a way that is impactful and engaging.

Related Case Studies
The Missing Piece of the Dry Eye Puzzle

| Contributed by Quidel

Uncovering Ocular Comorbidity

| Contributed by Quidel

Finding Ocular Surface Inflammation

| Contributed by Quidel

Related Product Profiles
Subspecialties Cornea / Ocular Surface
Tear Osmolarity – Empowering. Established. Essential.

| Contributed by TearLab

Subspecialties Cornea / Ocular Surface
Preservative-Free Cyclosporine 0.1% Ophthalmic Emulsion

| Contributed by ImprimisRx

Product Profiles

Access our product directory to see the latest products and services from our industry partners

Most Popular
Register to The Ophthalmologist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Ophthalmologist magazine



The Ophthalmologist website is intended solely for the eyes of healthcare professionals. Please confirm below: