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Charles D. Kelman MD

The American Academy of Ophthalmology takes special pride in honoring Charles D. Kelman, MD as an inaugural recipient of the Laureate Recognition Award at its 107th Annual Meeting.

Dr. Kelman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 23, 1930. After graduating from Forest Hills High School and Boston's Tufts University, he completed medical studies at the University of Geneva, Switzerland; an internship at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn; and residency in ophthalmology at the Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia. He has been in private practice in New York City since 1960.

In 1962 Dr. Kelman devised the cryo-probe, a freezing instrument for the extraction of cataracts within their capsules. This became the most widely used method for cataract removal in the world until about 1978, when it was supplanted by extracapsular cataract extraction with irrigation and aspiration, also introduced by Dr. Kelman and still the technique used by the majority of cataract surgeons today. In 1963 Dr. Kelman pioneered the use of freezing for the repair of retinal detachments. Retinal cryopexy remains a frequent adjunct in retinal surgery to this day.

Kelman phacoemulsification, introduced in 1967, became the impetus for today's outpatient cataract surgery. The procedure employs a small ultrasonic tip whose vibrations break up the mass of the cataractous lens within its capsule and suction it out through a small needle. Over one million operations of this type have been performed in this country alone. In 1975 Dr. Kelman began designing lens implants for use in conjunction with cataract surgery; since then numerous companies have sought his services, including Allergan Medical Optics, IOLAB, Alcon Surgical, Domilens, and Storz Ophthalmics. Approximate aggregate sales of Kelman-designed lenses by these companies total more than 340 million dollars, making Dr. Kelman the world's most successful intraocular lens designer by far.

Neurosurgeons have adopted the Kelman phacoemulsification machine for use in dissecting tumors from delicate brain and spinal cord tissue in children. In this way, the device has saved hundreds of young lives.

At present, Charles D. Kelman, MD is working on several new projects, including artificial blood vessels, artificial corneas and a magnetic cataract extraction procedure that will retain the patient?€™s normal ability to focus on near and distant objects. In other applications, the magnetic technique will be used to remove plaque from arteries and growths from the digestive tract, prostate, bladder and other areas without invasive surgery.

Clinical professor of ophthalmology at New York Medical College, Dr. Kelman holds the position of attending surgeon at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. He is a consultant surgeon at many hospitals throughout the world.

Dr. Kelman has been the recipient of several prominent awards including the Academy?€™s Special Recognition Award, the Ridley Medal by the International Congress of Ophthalmology, the First Innovators Award in Ophthalmology and received the Binkhorst Medal, both from the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, as well as the first recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award for excellence in cataract surgery from the American Society of Contemporary Ophthalmology. He was awarded the "Inventor of the Year Award" by the New York Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law Association for his development of the Kelman phacoemulsification procedure. In June 1992, Dr. Kelman was awarded the Prestigious National Medal of Technology by President George H.W. Bush and at the International Congress on Cataract and Refractive Surgery in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Kelman was named "Ophthalmologist of the Century" for his pioneering work in phacoemulsification.

Dr. Kelman is immediate past president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons. He has written hundreds of articles, papers and scientific books as well as a book for lay readers on cataracts and an autobiography entitled Through My Eyes (both from Crown Publishing). He continues to teach his surgical techniques while devoting his spare time to several new projects, including a musical, The Right Pair of Shoes, and an album that was released by Columbia Records.

Dr. Kelman is honored for his distinguished career and contributions to ophthalmology. It is with great pleasure that the Academy welcomes Dr. Charles Kelman as a 2003 Academy Laureate.