Did you know that the most common surgical eye procedure today began as a tragic injury to a WWII pilot?
Did you know that one of the first medical devices to ever be implanted into a human was performed by an ophthalmologist?
Do you know the riveting story behind the man who envisioned and achieved ground-breaking medical advancements for vision care?
An innovator in eye surgery and undisputed inventor of the intraocular lens (IOL), Sir Harold Ridley achieved some of the most important discoveries in ophthalmology and medicine over the last 100 years.
The compelling story of Sir Harold Ridley is one not widely known among today’s medical community. It is a story of an unassuming medical leader. It is a story that needs to be told, not only for its historical value, but also to provide guidance for future generations on bringing new inventions to the world.
In the early 1980’s, Dr. David J. Apple, one of the most prominent American ophthalmologists and eye researchers conducted studies that by the mid-1980’s had verified that Ridley’s innovation—the implantation of the IOL—was potentially safe and effective. Upon hearing of these studies, Ridley requested to meet Dr. Apple at Ridley’s home in England, where a life-long personal and professional relationship was born.
Inside Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight: He Changed the World So That We May Better See It, Dr. David J. Apple chronicles the amazing career and life of Sir Harold Ridley based on their friendship and on never before published documents, photographs, and memorabilia. Ridley’s tremendous impact on ophthalmology and specifically on the treatment of cataract patients, is a story that until now has not been told.
Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight is based on 26 years of research performed by Dr. Apple. Interviews with friends, families, colleagues, as well as the review of medical and hospital records, military records, and museum exhibits have brought the story of Sir Harold Ridley to forefront of the medical community today.
Dr. Apple brings life and credibility to the pages of Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight with over 600 images, testimonials from Sir Harold Ridley on his quest that began in 1935, and a personal touch that only a true colleague and friend can convey.
From Harold Ridley, 1989:
“I had twenty-five years in the wilderness and would have been spared much suffering if David Apple, the one who at last took the trouble to read and analyze all the early implant papers, had appeared in the 1950’s, for a whole generation of cataract patients might then have enjoyed full visual rehabilitation instead of suffering the abnormalities of aphakia.”
In 1940 during World War II, in the legendary Battle of Britain, a British pilot was tragically blinded when shattered fragments of his cockpit canopy were embedded in his eyes. This tragic event led to the identification of an implant material and eventuated in Ridley’s accomplishing a complete cure for cataracts. Ridley focused the next decade of his life on the development of an artificial lens to be implanted following the removal of a cataract. This device has restored vision to nearly 200 million people worldwide, and presently 9 million annually.
After performing the first IOL implant on a cataract patient, Sir Harold Ridley was met with opposition from the medical community. It took three decades of struggle until his goal became reality. Now the cataract surgery, and its cousin, refractive surgery, including the procedure LASIK, are the most common surgical procedures performed today.
Paving the way for past, current and future ophthalmologists, Sir Harold Ridley not only implanted the first medical device into a patient—he pioneered multiple once in a lifetime discoveries including innovations on river blindness, techniques for optic nerve and retina diagnosis, introduction of television and other electronic techniques to ophthalmology, as well as establishing a branch of biomedical engineering focusing on the science of artificial implants.
Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight is the story of a brilliant man and his lifelong struggle to gain acceptance for his invention from his peers. He finally achieved this late in life and the intraocular lens is now recognized as one of the most important medical advances of the 20th century.