New York Medical College

2004 press releases


Valhalla, N.Y., September 29, 2004 - Ophthalmologist Charles D. Kelman, M.D., has been honored posthumously for his contribution to modern cataract surgery with the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Research. The Lasker Awards, which have come to be known as “America’s Nobels,” are awarded to scientists, physicians and public servants whose accomplishments have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of disease or illness. More than half of those who have received the award since 1962 have gone on to claim a Nobel prize.

Dr. Kelman, clinical professor of ophthalmology and an attending surgeon/consultant at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in New York City, developed and introduced the most important advances in cataract extraction techniques over the past 40 years. In 1962 he devised the cryo-probe, a freezing instrument for the extraction of cataracts within their capsules, which became the world’s most widely used method for cataract removal until 1978 when it was surpassed by extracapsular extraction with irrigation and aspiration, also developed by Dr. Kelman. During this time he also developed a procedure involving the use of a small instrument with an ultrasonic tip whose vibrations break up the mass of cataractous lens within its capsule, and suction it out through a small needle, allowing for cataract surgery to be performed on an outpatient basis.

The Brooklyn-born Dr. Kelman has been the recipient of numerous important honors, including the AAO Special Recognition Award, the International Congress of Ophthalmology’s Ridley Medal, and the First Innovators Award in Ophthalmology. In 1992 he was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush and named “Ophthalmologist of the Century” for his work in phacoemulsification by the International Congress on Cataract and Refractive Surgery.