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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 219-220

Birth centenary of Sir Harold Ridley (10th July 1906 - 25th May 2001)

Disha Eye Hospital and Research Centre, Barrackpore, West Bengal, Kolkata, India

Correspondence Address:
Samar K Basak
Disha Eye Hospital and Research Centre, Barrackpore, West Bengal, Kolkata
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0301-4738.27092

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How to cite this article:
Basak SK. Birth centenary of Sir Harold Ridley (10th July 1906 - 25th May 2001). Indian J Ophthalmol 2006;54:219-20

How to cite this URL:
Basak SK. Birth centenary of Sir Harold Ridley (10th July 1906 - 25th May 2001). Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2006 [cited 2023 Dec 9];54:219-20. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ijo/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?2006/54/3/219/27092

Dear Editor,

This letter is to pay homage and to draw the reader's attention to the celebration of the birth centenary of Dr. Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley. He was the elder son of a naval surgeon, who later graduated in Ophthalmology. His mother came from the Parker family and was a friend of Florence Nightingale. In 1941, he married Elisabeth Wetherhill and had two sons and one daughter.

Dr. Harold Ridley was a consultant at the St. Thomas and Moorefields eye hospitals in 1939, when England declared war on Germany. After one year, Germany launched the air attack known as the Battle of Britain . As a part of the medical emergency service, Dr. Ridley came in contact with Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots who suffered from eye injuries. Many of those injuries included fragments of Spitfire fighter-plane (Super-marine or the Hawker Hurricane) canopies, which were made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or "Perspex". Dr. Ridley noted that these plastic fragments were biologically inert and well- tolerated by the eye. These observations had to be put on hold however, as the World War progressed and he was posted at different countries as a Major in the royal army medical corps.

Dr. Ridley's thought on PMMA implants returned after the war, while operating on a cataract patient and a resident remarked that it was a pity that he was not able to replace the removed lens. In the late 1940s, he secretly met John Pike of Rayner in London, to discuss the design of the first IOL of the world. That was the beginning of a new era. Now it has been universally accepted that he is the inventor of the IOL and he was the first ophthalmologist to implant an IOL.[1] Dr. Harold Ridley was conferred the Knighthood in his homeland by Queen Elizabeth II in February 2000, at the age of 93![2]

His passion was fly-fishing, a pursuit well- suited to life at his weekend retreat and later at his retirement home on the bank of the river Wylie in Wiltshire. The quality of his own life towards the end, was greatly enhanced by undergoing, what he termed "his own operation", by extra -capsular cataract extraction with posterior chamber intra -ocular lens in both eyes.

Two stamps were issued by the Great Britain Postal Department in 2003, to commemorate his invention towards medical science.[3] The 1st stamp depicts his portraits during his 40s [Figure - 1] and the 2nd stamp depicts the famous Spitfires of World War II [Figure - 2].

  References Top

Trivedi RH, Apple DJ, Pandey SK, Warner L, Izak AM, Vasavada AR, et al . Sir Nicholas Harold Ridley. He changed the world, so that we might better see it. Indian J Ophthalmol 2003;51:211-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Winstanley J. Obituary: Sir Harold Ridley. Independent, The (London), June 13, 2001. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi, accessed on 13.03.2006.  Back to cited text no. 2
The British Postal Museum and Archive. htpp://www.postalheritage.org.uk accessed on 13.3.2006.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure - 1], [Figure - 2]


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