Harold Ridley (ophthalmologist)

Sir Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley [1][2] (10 July 1906, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire – 25 May 2001, Salisbury, Wiltshire) was an English ophthalmologist who pioneered artificial intraocular lens transplant surgery for cataract patients.


Early years

Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley was the son of Nicholas Charles Ridley and his wife Margaret, née Parker; he had a younger brother, Olden. Harold had a stammer which he largely managed to cure. He was very fond as a lapchild of Florence Nightingale, a very close friend of his mother. He was educated at Charterhouse School before studying at Pembroke College, Cambridge from 1924–1927, and completed his medical training in 1930 at St Thomas' Hospital. Subsequently he worked as a surgeon at Moorfield Eye Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In 1938 Ridley was appointed full surgeon and consultant at Moorfields Hospital and later appointed consulted surgeon in 1946.

Cataract operations and intraocular lenses

First permanent insertion of intraocular lens, 8 February 1950

While working with Royal Air Force casualties during World War II, Ridley noticed that when splinters of acrylic plastic from aircraft cockpit canopies became lodged in the eyes of wounded pilots, they did not trigger rejection, leading him to propose the use of artificial lenses in the eye to correct cases of cataracts.

He had a lens manufactured using the same material — brand name Perspex made by ICI — and on 29 November 1949 at St Thomas' Hospital, Harold Ridley achieved the first implant of an intraocular lens, although it was not until 1950 that he left an artificial lens permanently in place in an eye. The first lens was manufactured by the Rayner company of Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, a company which continues to manufacture and market modern, small-incision versions of these lenses today.

In 1952 the first IOL implant was performed in the United States, a Ridley-Rayner lens implanted at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.

Ridley went on to develop comprehensive programs for cataract surgery with intraocular implants and pioneered this treatment in the face of prolonged strong opposition from the medical community. He worked hard to overcome complications, and had refined the technique by the late 1960s. With his pupil Peter Choyce he eventually achieved worldwide support for the technique, and the intraocular lens was finally approved as "safe and effective" and approved for use in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration in 1981. These first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lenses, (Choyce Mark VIII and Choyce Mark IX Anterior Chamber lenses) were manufactured by Rayner. Cataract extraction surgery with intraocular lens implantation is now the most common type of eye surgery.

Other work and later life

Harold Ridley also led important research into onchocerciasis when he was stationed in Ghana for part of his war service in World War II.

Ridley retired from NHS hospital service in 1971 and received many awards over the next 29 years. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the Royal Society. In February 2000, Harold Ridley was knighted by HM Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London.

Sir Harold Ridley resided in Wiltshire until his death on 25 May 2001.


  1. ^ Apple, D. J. (2007). "Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley. 10 July 1906 -- 25 May 2001: Elected FRS 1986". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 53: 285–307. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2007.0022. PMID 18543467.  edit
  2. ^ Sir Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley at Britannica.com

External links

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