70th Anniversary of the first successful cataract surgery by Sir Harold Ridley

14/02/2020

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first successful cataract surgery in the world, an operation carried out by Sir Harold Ridley at St Thomas' Hospital in London on 8 February 1950.    It is estimated that more than 200 million people's sight has been saved with the same technique.

Sir Harold, who was born at 70 Leicester Road, in Kibworth Harcourt, was the son of a naval surgeon who had later specialised in ophthalmology.  As a child he knew Florence Nightingale, a close friend of his mother's.

Sir Harold's breakthrough came when he treated a Spitfire pilot who had Perspex stuck in his eye.  He realised that unlike most foreign bodies, the eye wasn't rejecting the material.

In 2012, I was a member of the team that installed a commemorative plaque at 70 Leicester Road in Kibworth Harcourt in Leicestershire where Sir Harold was born.  On Saturday 18 February 2012, the plaque was unveiled at 70 Leicester Road by his son, Nicholas Ridley.

Link to the David J. Apple Lab website for background material