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Wednesday, 20 January 2010, 12:00AM
Museum of London

The History of Cataract Surgery

Professor William Ayliffe FRCS PhD

The commonest operation in the world is responsible for restoring sight to millions of blind and visually disabled people every year. From humble beginnings in India over 2,000 years ago it was refined by French surgeons in the Enlightenment. Over the last few decades this operation has been transformed from a risky operation almost identical to that performed by Victorian Surgeons, into a sophisticated quick day case procedure with extremely low complications. The development of new materials by the British aircraft industry was critical to this development and the courageous adoption of pioneering surgeons all over the world, criticised by their peers at the time, has led to the miracle of modern cataract surgery.

The other lectures in the series A cultural and scientific survey of the eye and vision include:     
      The human eye and vision
      Braille and the history of blindness
      i-dentity: Prof. Marshall, Raynes Institute, St. Thomas' Hospital
      Visual Perception
      Inflammatory Eye Disease

professor-william-ayliffe-frcs-phd

Professor William Ayliffe is Emeritus Professor of Physic at Gresham College and a Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Lister Hospital in London.  As well as being a practising clinician and teacher, he also continues to carry out clinical research into the prevention of blindness.

After taking a first in Immunology at Imperial College, Professor Ayliffe qualified in Medicine in St. Bartholomew's Hospital London. Specialising in inflammatory eye diseases and corneal and cataract surgery he held a research registrar post at Oxford, before training in clinical ophthalmology in Bristol, Manchester and Harvard USA. His PhD was on mechanisms of corneal transplant failure. He has worked in developing countries and also with ORBIS, the international flying eye hospital.

In addition to general ophthalmology, Professor Ayliffe has developed a local and tertiary referral service for cornea, uveitis and inflammatory eye disease. Professor Ayliffe is a winner of the prestigious Wix Prize for the History of Medicine and the Kabi-Pharmacia Prize for immunological mechanisms of corneal transplant rejection.  He is a Reviewer for a number of professional journals including Eye, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, he is an Examiner for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and an Advisor to the UK Transplant Service.  He has undertaken wide media and TV work for the national press, the BBC and Channel 4, has an extensive range of publications and has delivered prestigious lectures all over the world.

Professor Ayliffe took up his Gresham Professorship in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's birth.  His lectures offered a cultural and scientific survey of the eye and vision, centring on the biological and cultural aspects of the human eye and vision, covering the overlapping medical, philosophical and humanitarian concerns of this area.

All of Professor Ayliffe's previous lectures may be accessed here.

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20 January 2010

The History of Cataract Surgery
Professor William Ayliffe FRCS PhD

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