Bausch + Lomb has celebrated 166 years with a series of events for its business partners.
At an event in Melbourne, attendees heard from Dr Calvin Roberts, Senior Vice President and the Chief Medical Officer who reflected on Bausch + Lomb’s extensive history.
So the first real innovation for Bausch + Lomb was the low cost spectacle frame
Explaining his involvement with the company, Dr Roberts said he was practising as a cataract and refractive surgeon when he was invited to work with Bausch + Lomb full time. He said the invitation stipulated one responsibility: “to make sure everything the company does makes sense to doctors”.
“We wanted to be different, we wanted to make sense to doctors, so that’s what I do – whether working with research and development, with education, working on products we aquire, or on how we go about marketing them – I make sure it’s what ophthalmologists want.”
Dr Roberts went on to outline the history of Bausch + Lomb, which was established in 1853 by two German entrepreneurs – John Bausch and Henry Lomb, an angel investor. Together they built an optical store in the city of Rochester, New York, USA.
When the American Civil War broke out in 1860, John Bausch remained at work while Henry Lomb went to war. He returned having seen the way in which the army moulded rubber using a process called vulcanisation… and having identified the opportunity to use the same process to develop lightweight, durable spectacle frames.
At that time, Dr Roberts explained, spectacles were not common – frames had to be hammered into shape from silver, which made them expensive.
“So the first real innovation for Bausch + Lomb was the low cost spectacle frame. And over the years, there have been a lot of other big optical innovations – two affected everyone’s lives: the shutter for a camera, which brought about the beginning of snapshot photography, and the cinemascope lens, which allowed movies to be projected on wide screens.”
Dr Roberts told the audience that another major innovation which changed the company’s direction, was the introduction of the first soft contact lens in 1971. This evolved Bausch + Lomb into an eye health company, and its introduction was followed by the first silicone hydrogel soft contact lens, innovative pharmaceuticals, and surgical products, including intraocular lenses.
“Today Bausch and Lomb is a fully integrated eye care company that has pharmaceuticals, surgical, vision care and consumer products… This is important because many patients require multifactorial treatment – so having all these businesses communicating and working together is valuable,” he said.