Sir Harold Ridley

Recognition, honours and awards

In the thirty years after implanting the first intraocular lens, Ridley received scant thanks and recognition from his peers. That began to change in the last twenty years of his life when he began to receive recognition for the invention that had restored the sight of millions of patients worldwide – including his own; finally he was honoured with a knighthood.

In 1986, Ridley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, thought to be only the second ophthalmologist so honoured. His first academic honour was an honorary doctorate degree, Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL), conferred in 1989 by the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.
In 1992, Ridley received the Gullstrand Medal named after the famous Swedish ophthalmic surgeon and Nobel Prize winner Allvar Gullstrand. In 1994, he received the Gonin Medal named after the renowned Swiss surgeon Jules Gonin who was the pioneer of surgery on detached retinas.
In April 1999, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in Seattle, Washington, Ridley was honoured in a special anniversary session as one of the most outstanding and influential ophthalmologists of the 20th century. Later the same year, at the 1999 meeting of the European Society of Ophthalmology (Stockholm, July 1999) he was honoured; and again at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (Vienna, September 1999).
In 2000, he was knighted in United Kingdom’s New Year Honours.
In 2001 a plaque was installed at St Thomas’s Hospital, London to commemorate the first IOL implantation. Ridley died the same year, in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
In September 2010, the Royal Mail issued a series of commemorative postage stamps to mark “Medical Breakthroughs”. Designed by Howard Brown, the 67p stamp depicted artificial lens implant surgery pioneered by Sir Harold Ridley 1949.

1986

Ridley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

1992

Ridley received the Gullstrand Medal named after the famous Swedish ophthalmic surgeon Allvar Gullstrand.

1994

Ridley received the Gonin Medal named after the renowned Swiss retinal surgeon Jules Gonin.

1999

Ridley honoured in a special anniversary session as one of the most outstanding and influential ophthalmologists of the 20th century

2001

A plaque was installed at St Thomas's Hospital, London to commemorate the first IOL implantation

A plaque in memory of Ridley is installed in the gardens of his alma mater Pembroke College, Cambridge, it reads: RIDLEY’S WALK
“This plaque is placed in memory of Sir Harold Ridley FRS 1906-2001 pioneer of intraocular lens surgery, graduate & benefactor of this College after whose ancestor Bishop Nicholas Ridley, Master 1540-1553, martyred 1555, this path is traditionally named”.