Lenses After Cataract Surgery
On this date in 1952, a patient in Philadelphia received the first plastic lens for use after cataract surgery. The lens was made of Plexiglas, of a kind called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). British surgeon Harold Ridley found during World War II that PMMA, then used to make aircraft canopies, didn't harm the eyes of pilots when the canopies shattered. Eventual widespread use of the lenses meant that people didn't have to wear heavy cataract glasses or thick contact lenses after cataract surgery. Surgeons eventually stopped using these lenses because of complications. Then Dutch surgeons redesigned Ridleys original lens implant, making it smaller, lighter and safer.
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