Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dr. Robert Morrison

It's not often one gets to meet an individual who has significantly influenced the way a profession is practiced, let alone help to invent a device that literally has changed millions of lives, but I had that very honor yesterday when I had to pleasure to spend time with Dr. Robert Morrison.  Dr. Morrison is a 1948 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.  During the course of his very unique and successful career, Dr. Morrison helped to shape the way optometry and ophthalmology are practiced globally. You may ask what were his accomplishments and why haven't I ever heard of him?  I'll address the what first.  Dr. Morrison, working with scientists in Czechoslovakia helped to develop what is today's modern soft contact lens. As a young provider, Dr. Morrison had a keen interest in corneal physiology and contact lenses.  He was a pioneer in the fitting of PMMA lenses and did early research in orthokeratology that helped inform today's body of knowledge.  He also was a leader in the visual treatment of keratoconus, using toric contact lenses to help improve vision.  When he learned of a new polymer (HEMA gel) that was developed in Europe, he worked closely with chemists to perfect the optical quality of the material so it could later be employed as soft contact lenses.  

Always innovative and creative, Dr. Morrison didn't stop there, but he worked to develop toric soft lens designs and was the first to use what we call a "piggyback" lens, a soft contact lens with a rigid lens over it, to correct keratoconic patients.    Bausch and Lomb ultimately purchased the patent for the soft lens and as they say, the rest is history.  Throughout his very illustrious career, Dr. Morrison was called upon by royalty in Europe, movie stars, politicians and others to address their unique visual needs.  An avid tennis player, he managed to weave his love of tennis and eye care together often forging lasting friendships that have served both optometry and ophthalmology well.  He is very humble about all of his accomplishments, thus the reason many have not heard of him.

We've got a copy of his biography in our library and I would encourage our students to read it.  It's not often one person leaves a legacy of innovation, creativity and professional achievement.  Dr. Robert Morrison has done the optometric and ophthalmological professions and the patients we serve a great service and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.


  1. The Library has 3 books and one videotape about Dr. Robert Morrison. These materials will be displayed in the video-section (behind most current journal-holdings area) of the Library. Thank you for recommending Library of Salus. L.

  2. I had the pleasure to work with Bob when I was a young optometrist. He helped a number of us launch a career in teaching and writing and shring clinical ideas. His "International Contact Lens Conference" was a highlight meeting for many of us. Scott Edmonds, O.D.