Charles D. Kelman, M.D.
Charles 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
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 a 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. Numerous companies
including Allergan Medical Optics, IOLAB, Alcon Surgical, Domilens and Storz
Ophthalmics sought his services. 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
dissection of tumors from the delicate brain and spinal cord tissue in children.
In this way, the device has saved hundreds of young lives.
At present, Charles Kelman is working on several new projects including
artificial blood vessels, artificial corneas and a magnetic cataract extraction
procedure which will retain the patientís normal ability to focus on near and
distant objects,. Other applications of 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 Consultant Surgeon at many
hospitals throughout the world.
In 1970, Dr. Kelman won the American Academy of Achievement Award. (Prior
winners were Dr. Salk and Debakey.) He was the first recipient of the
Outstanding Achievement Award for excellence in cataract surgery from The
American Society of Contemporary Ophthalmology. In 1985 he won the First
Innovators Award in Ophthalmology given by The American Society of Cataract and
Refractive Surgery. In 1989 he received The Binkhorst Medal from The American
Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (making him the first to receive both
prestigious awards). In 1990 he was awarded The Ridley Medal from the
International Congress of Ophthalmology. In 1991 Dr. Kelman returned to Wills
Eye Hospital where he was honored as The Arthur J. Bedell Memorial Lecturer.
Later that year, The American Academy of Ophthalmology awarded him their Special
Recognition Award. In 1992 he received the Distinguished Service Award from
Tufts University and was awarded the "Inventor of the Year Award" from 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 Bush. In July 1994 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 lay book on cataracts (Crown
Publishing) and an autobiography (Crown Publishing) entitled Through My Eyes.
He has found time to learn to pilot his own helicopter and is avidly following
his hobbies of golf, music and performing. He has entertained on The Tonight
Show starring Johnny Carson, The Barbara Walters Show, The Merv Griffin Show,
The David Letterman Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show and numerous others. He has
appeared in concert as a musician with Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie and
has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall, Las Vegas, Atlantic City with The
Spinners, Glen Campbell, James Darren, Regis Philbin and others.
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.